[SOAN] SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 6/2/08
- The SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #122
June 2, 2008
by Peter Suber
Read this issue online
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Open access and the self-correction of knowledge
Here's an epistemological argument for OA. It's
not particularly new or novel. In fact, I trace
it back to some arguments by John Stuart Mill in
1859. Nor is it very subtle or complicated. But
it's important in its own right and it's
importantly different from the moral and
pragmatic arguments for OA we see more often.
The thesis in a nutshell is that OA facilitates
the testing and validation of knowledge
claims. OA enhances the process by which science
is self-correcting. OA improves the reliability of inquiry.
Science is fallible, but clearly that's not what
makes it special. Science is special because
it's self-correcting. It isn't self-correcting
because individual scientists acknowledge their
mistakes, accept correction, and change their
minds. Sometimes they do and sometimes they
don't. Science is self-correcting because
scientists eventually correct the errors of other
scientists, and find the evidence to persuade
their colleagues to accept the correction, even
if the new professional consensus takes more than
a generation. In fact, it's precisely because
individuals find it difficult to correct
themselves, or precisely because they benefit
from the perspectives of others, that we should
employ means of correction that harness public scrutiny and open access.
I draw on two propositions from John Stuart
Mill. It may seem odd that they don't come from
his philosophy of science, but his short treatise
on the freedom of expression, _On Liberty_
(1859). Mill made a powerful argument that
freedom of expression is essential to
truth-seeking, and in elaborating it pointed out
the essential role of opening discussion as
widely as possible. Here's how the two
propositions look in their natural habitat:
Mill, _On Liberty_ (Hackett Pub. Co., 1978) at p. 19:
>[T]he source of everything respectable in manMill at p. 20:
>either as an intellectual or as a moral
>being...[is] that his errors are corrigible. He
>is capable of rectifying his mistakes by
>discussion and experience....The whole strength
>and value, then, of human judgment depending on
>the one property, that it can be set right when
>it is wrong, reliance can be placed on it only
>when the means of setting it right are kept constantly at hand.
>The beliefs which we have most warrant for, haveHere's a quick paraphrase: To err is human, but
>no safeguard to rest on, but a standing
>invitation to the whole world to prove them
>unfounded. If the challenge is not accepted, or
>is accepted and the attempt fails, we are far
>enough from certainty still; but we have done
>the best that the existing state of human reason
>admits of; we have neglected nothing that could
>give the truth a chance of reaching us: if the
>lists are kept open, we may hope that if there
>be a better truth, it will be found when the
>human mind is capable of receiving it; and in
>the meantime we may rely on having attained such
>approach to truth, as is possible in our own
>day. This is the amount of certainty attainable
>by a fallible being, and this the sole way of attaining it.
we can always correct our errors. We needn't
distrust human judgment just because it
errs. But to trust human judgment, we must keep
the means for correcting it "constantly at
hand". The most important means of correction is
"a standing invitation to the whole world" to
find defects in our theories. The only kind of
certainty possible for human judgment is to face
and survive that kind of public scrutiny.
Let's look more closely at the process.
Mill argues at length that self-correction only
works when people who think a theory is false or
incomplete are allowed to say so. If church,
state, tenure committees, or department heads
punish deviations from orthodoxy, they will
silence many voices, including --for all we
know-- the voices that could identify and correct
its deficiencies. In short, scientific
self-correction depends on the freedom of
expression and works best in a free society.
Mill at pp. 20-21:
>To call any proposition certain, while there isOf course scientific self-correction depends on
>any one who would deny its certainty if
>permitted, but who is not permitted, is to
>assume that we ourselves, and those who agree
>with us, are the judges of certainty, and judges
>without hearing the other side.
the usual ingredients of good
science: observation, evidence, experiment,
reasoning, and imagination. What is usually
overlooked, and what Mill is adding to the list,
is that it also depends on institutions, like
legislatures, courts, and universities, in a
position to protect the freedom of expression.
It's not enough to free up large numbers of
people. We also need to free up all kinds of
people. The reason is simply that there is such
a thing as perspective, partiality, or
prejudice. In fact, these are among the usual
suspects for causing errors in human judgment,
including errors in science. If the only people
free to speak their minds are people like the
author, or people with a shared belief in current
orthodoxy, then we'd rarely hear from people in a
position to recognize deficiencies in need of correction.
In short, we must issue "a standing invitation to
the whole world" to find fault with our knowledge
claims. This requires disseminating our claims
as widely as possible. We don't have to compel
everyone to read our work and comment on
it. (It's an invitation, not an
obligation.) But we do have to make our claims
available to everyone who might care to read and comment on them.
That's OA in a nutshell, or OA from the
perspective of authors and publishers. We can
see the same point from the perspective of
readers. Before we can identify the weaknesses
in a theory, or hope to correct them, we must
know what the theory says. Before we can decide
whether an alleged error is an actual error, or
whether a proposed correction is justified, we
must know what the proponents and opponents of
the theory have to say about it. Hence, another
condition of scientific self-correction is access
to the literature and discussion, the flip side
of the worldwide invitation to
scrutinize. Authors must provide access, and
readers must have access. For the purposes of
scientific progress, a society in which access to
research is limited, because it's written in
Latin, because authors are secretive, or because
access requires travel or wealth, is like a
society in which freedom of expression is
limited. In both cases, we shrink the set of
people who are in a position to notice and
correct the deficiencies of a deficient
theory. We add friction to the process of scientific self-correction.
Mark Twain said that the person who doesn't read
has no advantage over the person who can't
read. Similarly, at least for the purpose of
scientific self-correction, scientists who are
free to speak their minds but lack access to the
literature have no advantage over scientists
without the freedom to speak their minds.
Yes, this is the many-eyeballs theory, as it
looked in the mid-19th century. Opening new
theories to many eyeballs for scrutiny,
especially when those eyeballs belong to people
who are free to speak their minds, releases a
torrent of many voices from many
perspectives. The resulting disagreements make
life difficult, and the standing invitation to
the whole world makes it even more
difficult. But working through those
difficulties, or evaluating the evidence and
arguments that can be brought to bear against a
new claim, are exactly what scientists must do to
inch asymptotically toward certainty. To
short-circuit this process in the name of
convenience is to compromise the possibility of correction.
Mill at pp. 19-20:
>[T]the only way in which a human being can makeMill at p. 36:
>some approach to knowing the whole of a subject,
>is by hearing what can be said about it by
>persons of every variety of opinion, and
>studying all modes in which it can be looked at
>by every character of mind....The steady habit
>of correcting and completing his own opinion by
>collating it with those of others, so far from
>causing doubt and hesitation in carrying it into
>practice, is the only stable foundation for a
>just reliance on it: for, being cognizant of all
>that can, at least obviously, be said against
>him, and having taken up his position against
>all gainsayers knowing that he has sought for
>objections and difficulties, instead of avoiding
>them, and has shut out no light which can be
>thrown upon the subject from any quarter -he has
>a right to think his judgment better than that
>of any person, or any multitude, who have not gone through a similar
>So essential is this discipline to...realScientific self-correction depends on public
>understanding..., that if opponents of [an idea]
>do not exist, it is indispensable to imagine
>them and supply them with the strongest
>arguments which the most skilful devil's advocate can conjure up.
scrutiny for two different purposes: first for
noticing any errors in a theory and then for
correcting them. OA advances both purposes, by
exposing the theory to more readers, just as
political liberty advances both purposes, by
freeing readers to register their dissent and
argue for other points of view. But the two
steps don't always occur together. When a theory
is false or incomplete, we make progress by
noticing its weaknesses, even if we don't
immediately know how to correct them. We make
progress on both fronts by enlisting as much help as we possibly can.
We may discover new ideas in private and shape
them into plausible hypotheses in private. But
we validate knowledge claims in public. By
embracing the method of public scrutiny, we aim
for the kind of certainty that can answer
criticism, not the kind of private certitude that
excludes it. But once we acknowledge that the
process is intrinsically public, and designed to
move beyond the private feeling of confidence to
the public examination of evidence, we must
protect the process that makes it work. We may
have to accept access restrictions, when we can't
remove them ourselves, but we shouldn't forget
the principle and believe that the process works
as well with access restrictions as it would
without. In a similar way, patriots may put
their country ahead of individuals, on the ground
that the whole is greater than the parts, but
shouldn't forget the principle and put their country ahead of the world.
Mill at p. 17:
>All silencing of discussion is an assumption ofMaximizing access to our ideas, and inviting the
>infallibility.....[W]hile every one well knows
>himself to be fallible, few think it necessary
>to take any precautions against their own fallibility....
whole world to scrutinize them, is one precaution
against our fallibility which we can keep
constantly at hand with very little
effort. Print works better than letters to
friends and colleagues; online access to paying
customers, at least when many pay, can work
better than print; OA works best of all.
The method of public scrutiny doesn't produce
mathematical certainty in empirical sciences
where the most we can expect is a high degree of
confirmation. On the contrary, it introduces a
very different standard: not proof, but
longevity in a free society. The longer a theory
survives the open challenge to expose its flaws,
when everyone who cares has access to the
literature and the freedom to speak their minds,
the lower the odds that the theory has flaws to expose.
If a scientific result gains credibility the
longer it lasts in a free society without
falsification, then it gains an even greater
measure of credibility the longer it lasts in
free society *with OA* and without
falsification. You might say that surviving _n_
years with OA is equivalent to surviving _mn_
years without OA, when _m_ is a coefficient
representing the friction in a non-OA system, or
the inefficiency and delay caused by the lack of
OA. Just don't start looking for _m_ as if it
were a constant of nature. Toll access varies
widely in its extent, from work to work, place to
place, and time to time, making _m_ another variable, not a constant.
For scientific self-correction, OA is lubricant,
not a precondition. Science made extraordinary
progress during the age of print, when OA was
physically and economically impossible. Indeed,
much of the scientific progress in the 16th and
17th centuries was due to the spread of print
itself and the wider access it allowed for new
results. Widening access further through OA
harnesses the same process for the same
purpose. Limits on access (like limits on
liberty) are not deal-breakers, just friction in
the system. But we owe it to ourselves and our
planet to take the friction out of the system as far as we can.
Here are a few minor points I'd include in footnotes, if I had footnotes.
In my opening paragraph I distinguished moral,
pragmatic, and epistemological arguments for
OA. But clearly they overlap. In particular,
pragmatic arguments (for example, that OA
accelerates research) are components of moral
arguments (accelerating research is
good). Likewise, the epistemological argument I
just sketched (OA facilitates scientific
self-correction) can easily become a component of
a moral argument (facilitating self-correction is
good). So I'm less interested in drawing sharp
lines to separate the types from another than in
pointing out that there *are* epistemological
arguments for OA. OA can affect knowledge
itself, or the process by which knowledge claims become knowledge.
Here are some examples of what I mean by moral
arguments: OA frees authors and readers from
needless access barriers; it returns the control
of scholarship to scholars; by increasing the
author's impact, it advances the author's purpose
in writing journal articles for impact rather
than money; it counteracts the deliberate
creation of artificial scarcity; it counteracts
the deliberate and accidental maldistribution of
knowledge; it de-encloses a commons; it serves
the under-served; and for the special subset of
publicly-funded research, it is part of fundamental fairness to taxpayers.
Here are some examples of what I mean by
pragmatic arguments: OA accelerates research and
increases the productivity of researchers; it
makes research more useful and increases the
research funder's return on investment; it helps
authors find readers and readers find authors; it
reaches a wider audience at lower cost than
toll-access forms of distribution; it saves money
at both the author and reader sides of the
distribution process; it widens dialogue, builds
community, and supports cooperation; it enhances
preservation by freeing downstream users to make
copies and migrate content to new media and
formats; and it makes research literature and
data available for crunching by new generations
of sophisticated software (indexing, mining,
summarizing, translating, linking, recommending,
alerting, mash-ups, and other forms of processing).
The Millian argument for OA is not the "wisdom of
crowds", at least not in the way in which this
term was used and made popular by James
Surowiecki. It's not about averaging or taking
the vector of many disparate judgments. In an
important way, it's the contrary. It's not about
synthesizing plural judgments, but eliciting
plural judgments without attempting to synthesize
them. The precious correction we need is at
least as likely to be found in an eccentric loner
or statistical outlier than in a popular proposal or artificial synthesis.
All correctness, confirmation, and certainty
under this theory coexist with the fallibility of
human judgment and the possibility of challenge
from unexpected directions. We needn't say that
perfect certainty and objectivity are attainable,
or that we've attained them; and if we did, our
claim would be subject to criticism and
correction like any other human judgment.
I didn't try to give an exhaustive account of the
conditions that make scientific self-correction
possible, and wouldn't trust myself to do so. I
only wanted to go far enough to show the role of
OA. If I were to extend the analysis to other
conditions, I'd start with peer review and the
kind of empirical content that underlies what
Karl Popper called falsifiability.
Finally, by chance, there was a beautiful
illustration of the Millian thesis in the news
during May. Jeffrey Young reported in the
Chronicle of Higher Education that journal
editors are noticing an "alarming" level of
image-tampering in submitted articles. But
journals needn't depend on the small number of
in-house experts to detect the tampering. Quoting Young:
>One new check on science images, though, is thehttp://chronicle.com/free/2008/05/3028n.htm
>blogosphere. As more papers are published in
>open-access journals, an informal group of watchdogs has emerged online.
>"There's a lot of folks who in their idle
>moments just take a good look at some figures
>randomly," says John E. Dahlberg, director of
>the division of investigative oversight at the
>Office of Research Integrity [at the US
>Department of Health and Human Services, which
>includes the NIH]. "We get allegations almost
>weekly involving people picking up problems with
>figures in grant applications or papers."
>Such online watchdogs were among those who first
>identified problems with images and other data
>in a cloning paper published in Science by Woo
>Suk Hwang, a South Korean researcher. The
>research was eventually found to be fraudulent,
>and the journal retracted the paper....
Here's what happened, or what I noticed, since
the last issue of the newsletter, emphasizing
action and policy over scholarship and
opinion. I put the most important items first,
with double asterisks, and otherwise cluster them
loosely by topic. Most of the time I link to
blog posts at Open Access News (where I am now
assisted by Gavin Baker), not to the sources
themselves, because I only want to use one link
per item and the blog posts usually bring many relevant links together.
** Harvard Law School joined the Harvard Faculty
of Arts and Sciences in adopting an OA
mandate. Just as in the FAS, the Law School
mandate was adopted by a unanimous vote of the faculty.
** The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) released
a draft OA mandate based on the exemplary IRCSET
OA policy adopted two weeks earlier (and covered
in last month's SOAN round-up). Public comments
on the draft are due on June 19.
** The Irish Universities Association officially
launched the IREL-Open project, which will build
an IR at every Irish university and develop a
federated harvesting and discovery service based on the repositories.
** The Canadian Library Association approved a
Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian
Libraries. It not only calls for a mandate OA
for publicly-funded research, but regards embargo
periods as a temporary compromise, justified only
to help publishers adapt during a transition period.
* Participants at an April OA conference in
Zaria, Nigeria, wrote a Communiqué recommending
government support for OA journals and OA repositories.
* The Nigerian University Library (NULIB)
consortium called on Nigerian scholars to self-archive.
* An English translation of the January 2007
Ukrainian OA mandate was deposited in
ROARMAP. The mandate has been approved by the
Ukrainian Parliament but not yet implemented.
* Australian Senator Kate Lundy renewed her call
for OA to publicly-funded research.
* The incipient Open Access Scholarly Publishers
Association (OASPA) released a draft of its bylaws.
* An editorial in a pro-IP magazine endorsed the
European University Association's OA
recommendations, which included a call for
mandating OA to publicly-funded research.
* The University of Oregon Faculty Senate adopted
a resolution encouraging faculty to use an author addendum.
* An editorial in the Oberlin Review called on Oberlin to adopt an OA
* The newest Draft Strategic Plan from UNESCO's
Information for All Programme includes (unspecific) language supporting OA.
* The NIH concluded its third round of public
comments on its public access policy. The
submitted comments are now online and the NIH
will issue a report on them in September.
* The NIH updated the FAQ on its OA policy.
* In order to support good policies and actions,
JISC undertook to show decision-makers how
repositories and preservation "address problems
that they are already worried about".
* Sabinet launched the beta version of its Open
Access Journal Collection. The launch edition
hosts 44 OA journals and 6,000+ OA full-text articles.
* The Open Humanities Press launched with a
portfolio of seven peer-reviewed OA journals.
* Cases Journal is a peer-reviewed OA journal for
medical case reports published by BioMed Central. Richard Smith is the
* The Journal of Hematology & Oncology is a new
peer-reviewed OA journal from BioMed Central.
* BMC Medical Physics is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from BMC.
* PMC Biophysics is a new peer-reviewed OA
journal of biophysics, published by PhysMath Central.
* Behemoth is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal of
civilization from Leipzig University.
* The International Journal of Zoology is a new
peer-reviewed, OA journal from Hindawi.
* Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery is a new
OA journal, offered as a section of the Medscape Journal of Medicine.
* UroToday International Journal is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.
* Global Health Action is a new peer-reviewed OA
journal affiliated with the Centre for Global
Health Research at Sweden's Umeå University and published by Co-Action.
* The Journal of Emergencies Trauma and Shock is
a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by
Medknow and the INDO-US Academic Council for Emergency and Trauma.
* The Journal of e-Media Studies is a new
peer-reviewed OA journal published by Dartmouth College Library.
* The International Journal of Health Research is
a new peer-reviewed OA journal from Poracom Academic Publishers.
* The Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer
Research is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal from
BioMed Central and the Regina Elena National Cancer Institute (of Italy).
* The International Journal of Therapeutic
Massage & Bodywork: Research, Education, &
Practice is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Massage Therapy
* The Journal of Humanoids is a new peer-reviewed
OA journal of humanoid robotics published by I-Tech.
* Inflexions: A Journal for Research-Creation is
a new peer-reviewed OA journal sponsored by the Sense Lab.
* S (the "journal of the Jan van Eyck Circle for
Lacanian Ideology Critique") is a new
peer-reviewed OA journal sponsored by the Jan van Eyck Academy.
* Spaces for Difference is a new peer-reviewed OA
journal on race, racism, gender, sexuality, and
social activism published by the U of California
as part of the eScholarship Repository Journal series.
* Stream: Culture/Politics/Technology is a new
peer-reviewed OA journal of communication
published by the Communication Graduate Student
Caucus at Simon Fraser University.
* Harvard's OA Journal of Legal Analysis is now accepting submissions.
* ScieCom Info revived with a new focus on the
Nordic and Baltic countries. The first issue in
its new incarnation was a special issue on OA in
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the Baltic countries.
* Economic Analysis and Policy converted to OA
after 38 years of publication. EAP is published
by the Economic Society of Australia.
* The Journal of Cytology converted to OA after 25 years of publication.
* Symmeikta, published since 1966, converted to
OA and changed its name to Byzantina Symmeikta.
* Aerosol Science and Technology (a TA journal)
announced its OA backfile, funded by Taylor &
Francis and created by the Caltech libraries.
* Gramophone Magazine converted its 85 year backfile to OA.
* The Indian Journal of Ophthalmology provided OA to its 55 year backfile.
* The Company of Biologists is providing OA to
the full backfile (1953-1986) of the Journal of
Embryology and Experimental Morphology. In 1986,
the journal became Development, which COB continues to publish.
* College & Research Libraries (C&RL) began
offering free online access to its accepted
articles during the period after peer review and before publication.
* Scholars Without Borders created a list of
peer-reviewed Open Access Journals published in India and the subcontinent.
* Revenue from its hybrid OA journals allowed the
American Physiological Society to limit its
subscription price increases for 2008 to 2.5%,
half of last year's price increase. The APS did
not reveal the rate of author uptake for its OA option.
* The DOAJ added 33 journals to the directory during May.
* Six Australian universities joined the CERN
SCOAP3 project: Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide,
Western Australia, New South Wales and the Australian National University.
* Heather Morrison reported that more than 40
journals began adding their articles to PubMed Central in March and April.
* CERN, DESY, Fermilab and SLAC are building
INSPIRE, a common retrieval platform for research
in high-energy physics. The goal is not to
replace arXiv, SPIRES, CDS, or JACoW, but to
provide a common interface for them.
* Science Commons and partners announced Health
Commons, an ambitious ecosystem of OA literature
and data, the semantic web, intelligent
licensing, specimen-sharing services, and
economies of scale, all in the service of
developing cures. The other partners are
CollabRx, CommerceNet, and the Public Library of Science.
* KnewCo launched WikiProteins, an application of
WikiProfessional combining OA, community
annotation, semantic processing, and text-mining.
* The National Science Digital Library launched
Classic Articles in Context, a project providing
OA to landmark papers and supporting materials
through a wiki plug-in to a Fedora repository.
* Wales' University of Glamorgan launched an institutional repository.
* The University of Limerick launched an institutional repository.
* The Dublin Institute of Technology launched its IR, Arrow@DIT.
* India's Institute of Mathematical Sciences
(IMSc) launched the IMSc Eprint Archive.
* Mexico's Nuevo Leon Autonomous University is planning to launch an IR.
* Medecins Sans Frontieres launched an OA repository.
* Pherobase is a new OA database of insect semiochemicals.
* Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD) and Asinex
have released an OA edition of the Asinex drug
compound libraries through the CDD online drug discovery database.
* The Logic Group Preprint Series and Artificial
Intelligence Preprint Series found a new home at
Igitur, the institutional repository at the University of Utrecht.
* GreyNet is making its conference proceedings OA
through the OpenSIGLE (Open System for
Information on Grey Literature in Europe) repository.
* Scientists Without Borders launched an OA
database to "coordinate science-based activities
that improve quality of life in the developing world."
* Infochimps.org is an OA database for hosting and integrating OA databases.
* The folks at EPrints revamped ROARMAP, the
database of funder and university OA
mandates. The front page now has a very useful
tally of the worldwide OA mandates in six categories.
* The National Cancer Institute announced plans
to use Tranche to disseminate proteomic data from
its Mouse Proteomic Technologies
Initiative. Tranche is an open source, P2P
file-sharing tool for scientific data, and one of
the first projects anywhere to adopt the Science
Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data.
* ChemSpider announced its adoption of CC
licenses, and then, within a week, announced that
it would "likely" use homegrown licensing
statements instead. Between the two announcements
many leaders of the open data movement held an
online discussion comparing open licenses with the public domain for data.
* PubChem released the beta of its PUG SOAP
(Power User Gateway Simple Object Access Protocol).
* The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) started
providing OA to Landsat images from 1972 to the present.
* The University of Georgia launched the OA Civil Rights Digital Library.
* The US National Archives announced plans for an
OA collection of the Founding Fathers' Papers.
* Columbia University contributed the papers of
John Jay to the Digital Library Federation's Aquifer.
* The University of Hull's Gold Dust Project
began collecting RSS feeds from institutional repositories.
* RePEc published a list of third-party services
using the open data provided by RePEc.
* The Repositories Support Project released 23 new repository case studies.
* JISC unveiled its version control
recommendations for articles on deposit in OA repositories.
* The Open Access Directory opened six new lists
for community editing and enlargement: Research
questions; Research in progress; Free and
open-source journal management software; Free and
open-source repository software; Acronyms; Blogs
about OA; OA by the numbers; Guides for OA
journal publishers; Disciplinary repositories; and an OA speakers bureau.
* Microsoft pulled the plug on Academic Search,
Book Search, and its book-scanning program. It
will fulfill existing contracts (e.g. with the
British Library), give digital copies of scanned
books to their publishers, donate its
book-scanning equipment to its partners, and
remove usage restrictions the public-domain books it has already scanned.
* The venerable French encyclopedia, Larousse,
will publish a free online edition, open to vetted user contributions.
* The Open University of Israel started publishing OA textbooks.
* The Venezuelan Ministry of Culture is
subsidizing OA books from the Ayacucho Library, a Venezuelan publisher.
* Munich's Ludwig-Maximilans University and the
University of Cologne are digitizing the Hebraica
Collection of the Munich State Library, which
includes 2,700 manuscripts from 1501 to 1933.
* Google Books and WorldCat agreed to link their records to one another.
* Action to Cure Kidney Cancer and the Polio
Survivors Association joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.
* The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge.
* Otago Polytechnic became the first educational
institution in Australasia to sign The Cape Town Open Education Declaration.
* The University of Michigan launched a project
to create OERs for health professionals.
* Stanford University will provide OA to the
papers of Stephen Jay Gould, and add cross-links to his sources.
* SURF released a new guide for scholars: How to
use copyright wisely within scholarly communication.
* The Research Information Network released a
major report on the costs and funding of scholarly communication in the UK.
* The University of California Berkeley's Center
for Studies in Higher Education released a new
report on faculty views on the future of scholarly communication.
* An Elsevier report showed that increased
access, in this case through HINARI, also
increased the research output of developing countries.
* The OAK Law Project released a major report on
Australian author attitudes toward OA.
* Rightscom and the European Commission launched
a research project on the Economic and Social Impact of the Public Domain.
* The Association of Research Libraries updated
its Brown-Bag Discussion Guide Series on Issues
in Scholarly Communication, adding new guides on
Author Rights and New Model Publications.
* Charles Bailey released version 2 of his
Electronic Theses and Dissertations Bibliography.
* Charles Bailey and Adrian Ho updated the links
on their Open Access Webliography.
* QUT ePrints, the institutional repository at
Queensland U of Technology passed the milestone of 10,000 items on deposit.
* The institutional repository of the Indian
Institute of Science (IISc) passed the milestone of 10,000 deposits.
* RePEc passed another series of milestones:
30,000,000 cumulated downloads, 10,000,000
article downloads, 700,000 monthly downloads,
475,000 online items, 175,000 paper abstracts, and more.
* Canada's National Topographic Data Base
converted to OA on April 1, 2007, and during the
next year its downloads increased 54-fold over the year before.
* Les Carr reported that monthly deposits in UK
institutional repositories doubled in the last 18 months.
* Two OA activists won Berkman Awards "for their
outstanding contributions to the Internet's
impact on society over the past decade": Richard
Baraniuk (of Connexions) and Carl Malamud (of Public.Resource.Org).
* Open Access News turned six.
* Justia and Public.Resource.org told the state
of Oregon that they did not recognize its claimed
copyright on the Oregon statutes and did not intend to comply with it.
* Oregon proposed a public license which Carl
Malamud (for Public.Resource.org) and Justia
declared was incompatible with the public
domain. Malamud and Justia vowed to distribute
an OA edition of the statutes by June 2, with or without Oregon's consent.
* The State of Oregon scheduled a hearing for
June 19, 2008 to consider its policy of claiming copyright in its statutes.
* Carl Malamud and Public.Resource.org launched a
new project to liberate PACER (Public Access to
Court Electronic Records) documents.
* Sean Kass, a third year Harvard law student,
has released a 14 minute video, Open Access to
Scholarly Publications. The video is a project
in the course, The Web Difference, taught by John Palfrey and David
* PubChemSR is a new search engine customized for PubChem.
* NextBio is a new, free search engine for research in the life sciences.
* A consortium of German universities and
libraries received funding from the Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to code version 4 of
OPUS, the open-source repository software.
* The Public Knowledge Project released version 2.1 of Open Conference
* Siyavula is a large, new open education project
in the planning stage by the South African government.
* OpenTuition launched a new site offering free
online study guides for accountancy.
* The Utah Board of Education approved a new
charter school to be called the Open High School
of Utah. All teaching will be online, and the
curriculum will rely exclusively on OERs.
* Britain will provide temporary OA to its UFO
files. After a month of OA, the files will convert to TA.
* Harvard's Berkman Center launched its OA
Publius Project, a series of essays on the
evolving norms for governing the internet.
* Stuart Shieber, architect of the OA mandate at
Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, was named
to head Harvard's new Office of Scholarly
Communication which will help to implement the new mandate.
* Harvard's Office of Scholarly Communication is
looking for a program manager to help implement
the university's two OA mandates.
* Paul Ginsparg was named a Science Fellow for
2008-2009 at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced
Study. He'll investigate "how researchers'
interactions change as a result of ever-growing
open access" and "create tools and resources for
researchers to communicate more efficiently with one another."
* Ten months before the massive May 12 earthquake
in China's Sichuan Province, which has already
killed 69,000+ (18,600+ are still missing) and
left 4,800,000+ homeless, two scientists
published a prediction of the quake with what
National Geographic called eerie
precision. However, National Geographic notes
that "there is little reason to believe Chinese
officials were aware of the July 2007 study", and
co-author Michael Ellis of the Center for
Earthquake Research and Information at the
University of Memphis noted that the "information
was effectively locked in an academic journal."
Coming this month
Here are some important OA-related events coming up in June.
* June 19, 2008. Deadline for public comments on
the draft OA mandate from Science Foundation Ireland.
* Notable conferences this month
Education and Media
Salzburg, June 2-3, 2008
Spreading the Light: 11th International Symposium
on Electronic Theses and Dissertations. ETD 2008.
Aberdeen, June 4-7, 2008
Digital Repositories: Interoperability Using Grid Technologies
Barcelona, June 5, 2008.
Open Content - Open Access
Stuttgart, June 9, 2008
eSciDoc Days 2008
Berlin, June 9-10, 2008
Joint Conference on Digital Libraries 2008
Pittsburgh, June 16-20, 2008
Göttingen, June 18, 2008
Repositories Support Project Summer School 2008
The Wirral, Cheshire, June 18-20, 2008
OpeniWorld: Europe 2008: Federating Resources
Through Open Interoperability: A Symposium and Workshop
Lyon, June 24-27, 2008
Building an Australasian Commons
Brisbane, June 24, 2008
Open Scholarship: Authority, Community and
Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0. 12th
International Conference on Electronic Publishing. OA is among the topics.
Toronto, June 25-27, 2008
SPARC-ACRL Forum on the Harvard open access policy
Anaheim, June 28-29, 2008
COMMUNIA conference on Public Domain in the Digital Age
Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, June 30 - July 1, 2008
* Other OA-related conferences
* When I maintained a list of upcoming
conferences, I would note here how many
conferences I'd added since the last issue. But
in late April I moved my conference list to the
Open Access Directory (OAD), a wiki, and invited
the entire OA community to take part in maintaining it.
There are three consequences. First, I'll no
longer note how many conferences have been added
to the list since the last issue. Second, for
information about past and future conferences,
please consult the OAD version of the list, not
my old one. And most importantly, please help
maintain the OAD version by adding relevant new
events yourself. The wiki-based list will only
be as comprehensive and up to date as we make it.
To reduce spam, OAD requires users to register
before they may edit, but registration is free and easy.
My old conference page, still online but no longer updated
The OAD Events page, open to the public for editing and enlargement
* In the May issue of SOAN, I published a list of
research questions in need of researchers.
Three days later, I deposited the list in OAD for
community editing, as I said I would. I'm happy
to report that the OAD version is now
substantially larger and better, thanks to user
contributions. Like other OAD lists, it will
remain online and open for user contributions indefinitely.
This is the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (ISSN
1546-7821), written by Peter Suber and published
by SPARC. The views I express in this newsletter
are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of SPARC or other sponsors.
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