California Open Access Legislation Clears Latest Hurdle

On May 30, 2013 David Knudson posted this in the official PLOS blog:

” The House Assembly today passed the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609). The act is now set to be heard in the Senate later this summer. If you live in California and would like to reach out to your state senator to show your support for AB 609 click on SPARC’s legislative action center and follow the prompts. If AB 609 becomes law, it will unlock access to the results of more than $200 million in annual, state-funded scientific research. We’d like to thank everyone who contacted their legislator to show support for this bill.

Meanwhile Open Access momentum continues in other states. The New York Open Access bill, S.4050 (Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research) will be considered by the Senate Finance committee next week. PLOS will continue to follow these developments and keep you updated.”

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Nature News Feature ‘Open Access: the true cost of science publishing’

Richard Van Noorden’s Nature v495 issue 7442 News Feature discusses the true cost of science publishing and the value publishers add for their money.
The article states that while data to support claims by either publishers of subscription journals or advocates of open access publishing has been lacking “The past few years have seen a change, however. The number of open-access journals has risen steadily, in part because of funders’ views that papers based on publicly funded research should be free for anyone to read. By 2011, 11% of the world’s articles were being published in fully open-access journals1 (see ‘The rise of open access’). Suddenly, scientists can compare between different publishing prices. A paper that costs US$5,000 for an author to publish in Cell Reports, for example, might cost just $1,350 to publish in PLoS ONE — whereas PeerJ offers to publish an unlimited number of papers per author for a one-time fee of $299. “For the first time, the author can evaluate the service that they’re getting for the fee they’re paying,” says Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition in Washington DC.
The variance in prices is leading everyone involved to question the academic publishing establishment as never before. For researchers and funders, the issue is how much of their scant resources need to be spent on publishing, and what form that publishing will take. For publishers, it is whether their current business models are sustainable — and whether highly selective, expensive journals can survive and prosper in an open-access world.” ….

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ALA Group Issues Report on Fair Use for Videos in Libraries

The Fair Use and Video Project has posted online its document titled “Community Practices in the Fair Use of Video in Libraries.”  This project began as an attempt by the Video Roundtable (VRT), a group within the American Library Association (ALA), to establish a recommended body of practice in the fair use of video for educational purposes. A team of six librarians, with advice and guidance from ALA’s Office of Information Technology Policy, coordinated the process of gathering input from the media librarian community and created the final document. Over the course of the project, our aims shifted from suggesting best practices, which was leading us into a thicket of conflicting copyright interpretations, to documenting community practices, which allowed us to explore how librarians routinely and responsibly fulfill their mission to preserve and provide access to our cultural record.  The team conducted in-person interviews at national conferences and hosted a series of focus groups at locations across the country: Boston, Seattle, Evanston, Washington, D.C. and Richmond.  About eighty library staff members with varying responsibilities for buying, processing, and/or supporting the educational use of video were included in our surveys.

The report concludes that librarians are deeply respectful of fair use as a means to ensure the kind of access to valuable content that is appropriate to the classroom, library, and learning space of today’s university. Such is the pace of change in higher education that new technological breakthroughs, court cases, and revisions to the law will likely change the landscape, over and over again, for use of library content of every conceivable format. However, fair use is clearly the cornerstone of a philosophy of service based on the principle of unfettered access to the materials of research and scholarship. This philosophy will endure as long as libraries maintain a strong commitment to the real intention of the copyright law, to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” Without fair use, libraries would most assuredly have to sharply curtail their efforts to deliver the essential materials of scholarship in the form and manner appropriate for real academic inquiry.

The document has a place for comments in the box at the top right of the page.


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The World Bank’s new open access policy and repository

The World Bank announced yesterday that it has created a “search-engine friendly” Open Knowledge Repository that contains more than 2,000 books, articles, reports and research papers and will allow the public to distribute, reuse and build upon much of its work—including commercially.

The repository, launched today, is a one-stop-shop for most of the Bank’s research outputs and knowledge products, providing free and unrestricted access to students, libraries, government officials and anyone interested in the Bank’s knowledge. Additional material, including foreign language editions and links to datasets, will be added in the coming year.

And, in a bid to promote knowledge-sharing around the world, the Bank has become the first major international organization to require open access under copyright licensing from Creative Commons—a non-profit organization whose copyright licenses are designed to accommodate the expanded access to information afforded by the Internet.

The repository and Creative Commons licenses are part of a new open access policy that takes effect on July 1 and will be phased in over the next year. The policy formalizes the Bank’s practice of making research outputs and knowledge products freely available online, but now much of that content can be shared and reused freely, if the Bank is credited for the original work.

Sympoze: A New Tool for Peer Review

A new open access project whose goal is to improve the peer review process through the use of crowd-sourcing (by qualified referees) has opened for business. Sympoze, which is being developed by Academy Geeks, is still in its beginning stages and currently has only two projects in the works: a general philosophy journal and a philosophy textbook. They hope to eventually have sufficient numbers of referees to allow for the creation of similar resources in other disciplines.

The founders of Sympoze believe that the use of crowd-sourcing for the peer review process will resolve a number of problems with the current academic publishing model: it will reduce the burden on referees, reduce the review time, speed up the identification of qualified referees, eliminate the bad luck of having your work assigned to a biased or overworked referee, provide for more diverse feedback, and result in a review that better reflects the consensus opinion of the discipline. Furthermore, once the article has passed the review process, it is published immediately in an open source publication.

If you’re interested in pursuing such a venture in your discipline, there is a volunteer form on each page of the Sympoze website. See its “FAQS” page for more details.

SMU to revive its Press

More than a year after it announced it was suspending operations at its well-regarded press, Southern Methodist University has decided it will give the press a second chance at life. In a statement sent to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Provost Paul Ludden confirmed the decision but left the specifics and timetable vague.

“After years of struggling to stay financially viable, SMU Press is evolving in a manner that we believe gives it the best chance to survive as a relevant, sustainable publisher in an evolving publishing world,” Ludden wrote. “We plan to hire a new director for the press who will take a fresh look at the publishing landscape and reinvent the press. We imagine that digital publishing and print-on-demand will figure prominently in any new venture.”

The outcry on- and off-campus over the suspension led Ludden to study the question of whether the press could be made sustainable. Founded in 1937, the press is Texas’s oldest academic publisher and is best known for literary fiction. Its titles have been distributed by Texas A&M University since its demise.

–Adapted from article by Jennifer Howard in The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 10, 2011.

Universities Join Forces to Support Open-Access Policies

The University of Kansas (KU) has had a faculty-approved open-access mandate in place since 2009. What it hasn’t had is a group of like-minded institutions to share ideas with about how to support such policies.

Today KU and 21 other universities and colleges announced that they’re joining forces to form the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions, or Coapi. The new group will “collaborate and share implementation strategies, and advocate on a national level,” it said in a statement. The group’s members so far include Arizona State, Columbia, Duke, Emory, Harvard, Oregon State, Stanford, and Trinity universities as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oberlin College. “The goal is to provide more practical advice and ideas for refining and expanding policies on our individual campuses but also to leverage those policies into action,” said Lorraine Haricombe, the dean of libraries at KU.

Ms. Haricombe began working to put together the coalition after hearing scholars and librarians on her campus talk about the challenges of complying with the open-access mandate. For instance, she said, it’s been difficult to get some publishers to allow faculty authors to deposit copies of journal articles in Kansas’s institutional repository, as the policy mandates. Ms. Haricombe said that another topic for Coapi is how to shift some of the money libraries pay for journal subscriptions over to support author-side fees charged by some open-access publishers. “My hope is that we will be able to speak with a collective voice about these issues that we face on our campuses,” she said.

The group will meet at the upcoming Berlin 9 open-access conference, to be held in November in Washington, to talk about which issues to focus on first. It will also discuss establishing itself as a formal membership organization and inviting other institutions to join. The group has the support of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, or SPARC, a national group that advocates for open access.

–Jennifer Howard in The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 2, 2011.

Video Abstracts in New Journal of Physics

New Journal of Physics (NJP) – an open-access journal co-owned by the Institute of Physics and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft and published by IOP Publishing – has announced the launch of video abstracts as a new integrated content stream that will give authors the opportunity to personally present the importance of their work to the journal’s global audience.

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Successful Herpetology Open Access Journal Has a Miniscule Budget

So it is possible to operate a well-regarded open access journal at almost no cost without charging any author or download fees – amazing.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a group of herpetologists (researchers who study reptiles and amphibians) operate a peer-reviewed, online-only journal called HERPETOLOGICAL CONSERVATION AND BIOLOGY for about $100 a year.  The journal was founded in 2006 and soon will have its impact factor included in Thomson Reuters’ JOURNAL CITATION REPORTS.  The journal’s acceptance rate is 50-60%.

For more information about this open access journal’s secrets of success, read the full Chronicle of Higher eduction article.

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PLoS Currents: quick turnaround, hot topics

The Public Library of Science (PLoS; has launched a new experimental service called PLoS Currents, which is designed to support quick turnaround among scientists on hot research topics. The first theme of the service will focus on swine influenza (H1N1). … Archiving the articles submitted will be the task of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI; in a new Rapid Research Notes ( The most interesting aspect of the new service … will probably lie in the technology platform … Google Knol ( Submitting content for inclusion will require contributors to join Google Knol. Then, a board of experts will approve or disapprove submissions using Google’s new Knol Collection feature to moderate PLoS Currents: Influenza (
More: (Information Today Inc. PLoS Currents Uses Google Knol Collections Feature for Swine Flu Reports by Barbara Quint Posted On August 31, 2009)

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