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ICSTI: news items

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: ICSTI: news items
  • From: Pete Strickland <ps@iucr.org>
  • Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 09:48:52 +0000
  • Organization: IUCr
Subject: Site licenses, new article, surprising conclusion....
>From Peter Subers blog:

NOTE THE "SURPRISING ANSWER" to the study......

Carl T. Bergstrom and Theodore C. Bergstrom, The costs and benefits of 
library site licenses to academic journals, Proceedings of the 
National Academy of Sciences online, January 8, 2004. Abstract: 
"Scientific publishing is rapidly shifting from a paper-based system 
to one of predominantly electronic distribution, in which 
universities purchase site licenses for online access to journal 
contents. Will these changes necessarily benefit the scientific 
community? By using basic microeconomics and elementary statistical 
theory, we address this question and find a surprising answer. If a 
journal is priced to maximize the publisher's profits, scholars on 
average are likely to be worse off when universities purchase site 
licenses than they would be if access were by individual 
subscriptions only. However, site licenses are not always 
disadvantageous. Journals issued by professional societies and 
university presses are often priced so as to maximize subscriptions 
while recovering average costs. When such journals are sustained by 
institutional site licenses, the net benefits to the scientific 
community are larger than if these journals are sold only by 
individual subscriptions."

The paper is at: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0305628101v1

BTW, you will need a subscription to read more than the abstract - you 
can purchase the article 'for two days' for $10

Subject: A criticism .... of Karen Hunter
>From Peter Suber's blog

Karen Hunter, Scholarly Publishing: 12 Observations on the Current 
Situation and Challenges for the Future, Library Connect, December 
2003, pp. 2-3. Observation #3: "The current preoccupation with 'free 
access' rests on false assumptions." Her reason: "Education is not 
free to students and information in support of education is not free 
either --any more than food, computers or football stadiums...."

(PS: Wow. I haven't heard this misunderstanding in years, and never 
expected to hear it again, let alone from the Senior VP for Strategy 
at Elsevier. From the start, proponents of OA acknowledged that OA 
literature costs money to produce and merely argued that there are 
better ways to cover these expenses than by charging readers or their 
libraries for access. I don't know anyone who defends OA literature 
on the ground that it costs nothing to produce. Most defenses are 
explicit in disclaiming this canard. Here, for example, is an entry 
from the BOAI FAQ, now almost two years old: "[Question] Isn't this 
wishful thinking? Do you really believe that online archives and 
journals are free? [Answer] 'Free' is ambiguous. We mean free for 
readers, not free for producers. We know that open-access literature 
is not free (without cost) to produce. But that does not foreclose 
the possibility of making it free of charge (without price) for 
readers and users....") (Thanks to the NFAIS Information Community 

Karen's article is at:

Subject: Open Access and Abstract/Indexing Services

This is Stevan Harnad's reply to a question about OA and locating the 
items....note the references to CAS, NIH, ....

Thread: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/2645.html

On Tue, 20 Jan 2004, [identity deleted] wrote:

I feel a little uneasy about complete espousal of open-access 
publications and the phenomenon of self-archiving from one's 
institution: I'd like to ask you about the process of abstracting 
and/or locating and/or retrieving such articles.

Would we rely on some sort of super-Google, with a consequent poor 
signal/noise ratio?

No, you can rely on something infinitely better, thanks to OAI 
tagging: OAI search engines like OAIster 
http://oaister.umdl.umich.edu/o/oaister/ and citebase 
http://citebase.eprints.org/cgi-bin/search targeted exclusively on 
the annual 2,500,000 articles in the world's 24,000 peer-reviewed 
journals (once each article has been made OA by either publishing it 
in an OA journal or self-archiving it in an OA archive).

Here's a list of OAI service providers that exist already, even for 
the little OA content so far: 

And last, even google could in principle be aimed exclusively at the 
OAI subset of the literature if the search included an OAI 

Published chemical research has a VERY efficient tracking mechanism 
for retrieval of peer-reviewed articles. The Chemical Abstracts 
Service [CAS] database has about 25 million abstracts of papers, 
searchable conveniently for many keywords and chemical structures and 
chemical properties.

I bet that most or all of that functionality can easily be duplicated 
on an OA version of that literature, once it exists.

But here is the right question to ask: Those who would-be users whose 
institutions can afford CAS can continue to enjoy it. An OA version 
of this literature is for those who would-be users whose institutions 
cannot afford CAS: I am sure they will be happier having the OA 
functionality even if it is not 100% than having the 0% functionality 
they have now!

CAS information would be defined as toll-access, and the American 
Chemical Society obtains annual revenue of over $300 million from its 
use, BUT charges for access by academic institutions are 10-20% those 
of "commercial" users [for- profits, governments]. Their coverage is 
essentially complete back to 1907.

Those charges are fine for the minority of institutions that can 
afford them. OA is for the majority that cannot. Self-archiving 
provides a *supplement* to toll-access, not a substitute for it.

Analogously the US National Library of Medicine's MedLine database 
[aka PubMed] covers all peer-reviewed articles in biomedical science 
with over 10 million abstracts, and provides free access to all 
Americans [pace Donna Shalala] and to everyone else. Of course the 
"free" access is paid for by the U. S. taxpayer.

PubMed is a splendid indexing service, subsidized by NIH and free to 
all users. But it does not and cannot provide full-text access (only 
the abstracts) apart from the tiny portion of the full-text 
biomedical literature that is OA and available through PubMed 

Let us not mix apples and oranges. The overwhelming need is to provide 
OA to the full-texts of all 2,500,000 annual articles in all 24,000 
peer-reviewed journals. The search/indexing services on that 
literature will come with the territory, as noted above. First, we 
need the OA territory! It makes no sense to delay providing it 
because the secondary OAI services on the not-yet-existent territory 
are not-yet-in-place!

Maybe the for-profit sector should have to pay the freight when they 
use the open-access resources, thus lowering expenses for the 
non-profit institutions who are paying up front when articles are 
submitted for publication.

The non-profit institutions are currently paying for access to one 
another's peer-reviewed output (which they always give away free: 
both to the publisher and to every would-be user). First, the 
toll-access has to be supplemented by each institution's 
self-archived versions versions of its own output, at virtually no 
cost per article (about $10 annual archiving cost per article). That 
is already the solution for OA. If is causes journal cancellations, 
TA journals can cut costs by downsizing to the essentials only 
(probably just peer review) and convert to OA upfront cost-recovery, 
which the institutions will by then have more than enough to pay for 
out of their annual windfall toll-savings.

It is unlikely that the institutions will want to restrict access to 
their open-access output by requiring OAI service-providers -- even 
for-profit ones -- to pay for access in order to provide their 
enhancements. More likely, they will stay out of it and let the 
market decide whether users want to pay for for-profit OAI 
service-providers or are happy enough with non-profit or free OAI 
service-providers such as OAIster.

Stevan Harnad

Subject: The Launch of INFO URI from NISO

The following press release announces the launch of the INFO URI. This 
is an important development as the INFO URI has the potential to 
expose our community's resources on the Web. 

The INFO Registry at <http://info-uri.info/> is up and running and 
ready to accept new registrations. Please go to that site for further 
information on the INFO URI.


NISO-Sponsored INFO URI Scheme is Information Gateway to the Web 
Publishing and Library Communities Join Forces to Facilitate and 
Expedite Representation of Standard Identifiers such as Library of 
Congress Control Numbers on the Web

Bethesda, MD - January 14, 2004 - Working under the auspices of the 
National Information Standards Organization (NISO), a joint task 
force of the publishing and library communities has developed and 
published a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) scheme aimed at the 
identification of information assets. Information assets should be 
interpreted rather broadly to include, for example, documents and 
terms from classification schemes. The INFO URI scheme is a 
consistent and reliable way to represent and reference such standard 
identifiers as Dewey Decimal Classifications on the Web so that these 
identifiers can be "read" and understood by Web applications. Led by 
four NISO members and associates-Los Alamos National Laboratory, 
Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), Elsevier, and Manifest 
Solutions-the initiative builds on earlier consultations with 
representatives from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the 
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). An Internet-Draft for the 
INFO URI scheme was first published Sept. 25th, 2003 and a revision 
published Dec. 5th, 2003 (see 

Herbert Van de Sompel, Digital Library Research & Prototyping at the 
Los Alamos National Laboratory's Research Library, stated, "A good 
example of the problem that the INFO URI scheme solves involves 
PubMed identifiers: unique numbers assigned to records in the PubMed 
database maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology 
Information (NCBI) of the National Library of Medicine. PubMed 
identifiers originated prior to the Web, so they are not URIs. As 
such they do not exist naturally in the Web infrastructure because 
the Web only recognizes URIs as a means to identify information 
resources. So Web applications cannot use PubMed identifiers, and 
hence cannot reference PubMed records that are identified by them. 
The solution is to turn PubMed identifiers into URIs. The INFO 
Registry enables the registration of public namespaces of standard 
identifiers; NCBI registered its PubMed identifier namespace under 
the INFO Registry-their namespace is pmid-so we can now talk about 
the record with the PubMed identifier '12376099' in URI terms as 

"The goal of INFO is to act as a bridging mechanism to the Web by 
providing a lightweight means for registering public namespaces used 
for the identification of information assets," said Tony Hammond, 
Advanced Technology Group at Elsevier, a world-leading publisher of 
scientific, technical and medical information products and services. 
"We see INFO as an enabling technology for the library, publishing 
and media communities-a way to facilitate and speed the growth of the 
Web as a truly global information place beyond a basic document 
repository. The Library of Congress, the National Library of 
Medicine, and NASA are among those organizations that have already 
registered public namespaces with the INFO Registry."

"There are different ways to represent these identifiers on the Web," 
explained Pat Harris, NISO's Executive Director, "but the INFO URI 
scheme really simplifies matters. As a Web user, you aren't likely to 
see the scheme in action on your screen-for example, 
<info:lccn/2002022641>, because it's an under-the-hood way of 
communicating the identity of an information asset to a Web 

The INFO Registry is now available online at <http://info-uri.info/> 
for receiving new registrations. This Registry contains all the 
information needed by Web applications to make use of INFO 
namespaces. Each Registry entry defines the namespace, the syntax, 
and normalization rules for the representing INFO identifiers as 
URIs, and gives full contact information for the namespace authority 
for that entry. Moreover, the INFO Registry is readable by both 
humans and machines alike.

For more information about the INFO URI scheme, see the FAQ at < 
http://info-uri.info/registry/docs/misc/faq.html >.


About NISO NISO, a non-profit association accredited by the American 
National Standards Institute (ANSI), identifies, develops, maintains, 
and publishes technical standards to manage information in our 
changing and ever-more digital environment. NISO standards apply both 
traditional and new technologies to the full range of 
information-related needs, including retrieval, re-purposing, 
storage, metadata, and preservation. www.niso.org Press Contact: 
Maryann Karinch (pr@karinch.com), T: 970-577-8500

* Both Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) and Uniform Resource Names 
(URNs) are types of URIs. While URLs are locators, or addresses, on 
the Web, URNs are names on the Web. The INFO URI scheme is a special 
type of URN which complements regular URNs but is designed to be 
simpler and more convenient both to manage and to use.

Jill O'Neill


Best wishes

Peter Strickland
Managing Editor
IUCr Journals

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