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ICSTI: news items

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: ICSTI: news items
  • From: Pete Strickland <ps@iucr.org>
  • Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 15:39:00 +0100
  • Organization: IUCr
Subject: Science opinion piece on OA

At this URL: http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2004/jul/opinion_040705.html

You will find an opinion piece on OA using the The American Society for 
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)as a model of a learned society who 
has developed an OA policy. The article is written by an ASBMB staff member 
and a Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor 
College of Medicine.

The article asks whether the PLOS - a 'new player' in STI is aware of the role 
of learned socs and others in the field and the role they play in addition to 
being publishers.

An Extract:

"PLoS claims that charges greater than its own fees for publication are 
excessive. Yet most societies plow much of their publication revenues back 
into their publishing operations, and any remaining revenues are spent on 
programs to advance science, such as scholarships, scientific meetings, 
grants, educational outreach, advocacy for research funding, the free 
dissemination of information for the public, and improvements in scientific 
publishing. This appears to matter little to PLoS, who blithely advises that 
societies should develop other sources of revenue"


"Rather than affiliating with PLoS, ASBMB has chosen to support the 
Washington, DC, Principles for Free Access to Science (www.dcprinciples.org). 
The DC Principles have been endorsed by 48 not-for-profit publishers and more 
than 600,000 scientists and clinicians"
Subject: New paper on STI and peer review

Sense about Science, a UK based charitable trust to encourage an 
evidence-based approach to scientific and technological developments, has 
recently completed a study by a working party on PEER REVIEW AND THE 

An extract:

"Many different groups of people comment on scientific issues and very few of 
them refer to whether work has been peer reviewed. There is little pressure 
for them to do so while scientists themselves rarely explain peer review to 
the public and sometimes fail to demonstrate regard for the distinction. If 
scientists regularly draw attention to whether work has been scrutinised by 
peers, and to whether results have been replicated, it will become easier for 
everyone to be more demanding about the quality of information that informs 
social discussions about science.

The social ‘uncertainty’ and scepticism of our times undoubtedly make the 
tasks of conveying scientific evidence and weighing scientific claims more 
challenging. In such circumstances, the fact that the development of science 
has at its centre a trust culture and deference to knowledge, codified in 
peer review, is potentially very significant. There is an opportunity to 
share its benefits with wider society within the debates about scientific 
evidence. This discussion paper encourages scientists, and others, to take 
that opportunity and to explore how an understanding of peer review can 
contribute to society’s judgements about the results of scientific research"

The full report in pdf can be downloaded from: 
Subject: Report of the UK Parliament on STI

The Science and Technology Committee of the UK House of Commons will publish 
its Tenth Report of Session 2003-04, Scientific Publications: Free for all? 
(HC 399), at 1000 hours on Tuesday 20 July 2004. Embargoed copies of the 
Report will be available to the press and to those who gave oral evidence to 
the inquiry from Reception, 7 Millbank, from 10am on Monday 19 July. 
Embargoed electronic copies will also be made available to those of the above 
who request them in advance. Copies of the Report can also be obtained from 
TSO outlets and from the Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament 
Square, London SW1A 2JX (020 7219 3890) by quoting the appropriate HC number. 
The text of the Report will also be available via the Committee's internet 
homepage: http://www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/s&thome.htm

Subject: Springer's new policy for OA

This is an item forwarded from the AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM on the 
subject of the new policy that Springer have announced.

The policy is relatively complex and this message expalins it well (with some 
personal comments).

Springer's plan is rather complex, and in some respects novel. When I first 
examined it, I relied on the press accounts, and misunderstood it's unique 
feature completely--as apparently did Stevan, Les, and Steve. Eventually I 
located clear statements in their web pages, several of which explained the 
different aspects:

There are two parts. One is that all authors can post their author's version 
of the accepted article, as with Elsevier. See 
(which is the page called "Open Choice for Authors") It's a good progressive 
step which needs to be further liberalized, but not an innovation

The other aspect is explained at: 
(which is the page called "Open Choice for Libraries") In this, authors have 
the option of paying a publication fee of $3000, in which case their 
particular article will be open access to all from he publisher's site. 
Again, a good step, although limited, and although the fee seems rather high, 
considering it applies both to the former high-priced Springer journals and 
the former moderately-priced Kluwer titles.

But, in their words, when "...the prices for the next year's subscriptions are 
calculated. At that time, Springer will calculate the number of articles 
published under the traditional model in the previous 12 months. If that 
number is less than the twelve month period before that, then subscription 
prices will decrease accordingly." This apparently means that if half their 
authors pay the author/sponsor fee, the subscription price of the journal 
next year will be half. (There are many further complexities, which can be 
found on their pages.)

In other words, as their authors/sponsors switch to a "gold" model, so will 
the journal.

I believe this to be a novel approach to the problem that "Becoming gold 
entails some risk" as Stevan says. The explicit link of the subscription 
prices as well as the access, to the fees, is a model I have not seen before 
and never considered. It does offer an interesting approach to the problem of 
transferring funds within the university. Indeed, funding authorities might 
be more likely to commit the money for author/sponsor fees, as some direct 
monetary benefit to the institution would result. I

It has all the potential confusion of any mixed model--for any particular 
article the reader does not know what access will be obtained. Unfortunately, 
until a journal is 100% gold, this complexity will be present under any 
model. Even if only some journals are 100% gold, much complexity will still 
be present. Some of the benefits of Open Access will not be attained until we 
reach 100% OA.

On balance, if I were publishing in a good Springer journal I would try to 
find money to pay the fee, knowing that not only would I receive the benefit 
of being more widely read, and my readers receive the benefit of having 
easier access to my article, but the library subscription costs of all 
universities subscribing to that journal would decrease. If I could not find 
the money. the reasonably good option of posting the author's version would 
still be there.

Obviously. all of these changes and complexities would be immensely simplified 
if all authors provided OA by the fastest available model--posting some 
version of their article. Then better but slower models can be explored, 
developed and deployed.

Dr. David Goodman 
Associate Professor 
Palmer School of Library and Information Science 
Long Island University d

(and, formerly: Princeton University Library)

-----Re: How many journals sell authors Open Access by the article?

Reed/Elsevier, like Springer/Kluwer, has already become a "green" publisher in 
response to pressure for OA from the world research community. Open Access 
means that all would-be users of a journal article should be able to access 
an online version of it for free webwide. The reason researchers want Open 
Access to their findings is research impact: They no longer want any 
researcher to be unable to use and build upon their work because their 
institution does not happen to be able to afford the access-tolls for the 
journal in which it is published. OA maximises research progress and 
productivity, and both Springer/Kluwer and Reed/Elsevier have recognised this 
by giving their authors the "green light" to self-archive their articles, 
free for all, on their institution's website.

There is something more that both publishers could have done for the sake of 
OA, but it must be stated that this further step is not a necessary one, in 
order for research to enjoy 100% OA and its benefits immediately. Becoming 
green is as much as a publisher need do to confirm its support for OA and to 
maximise the research impact of its articles; but the publisher could also 
become "gold": it could convert to OA publishing, in which it is not the 
user-institution that pays the publication costs per journal subscribed to 
but the author-institution that pays, per article published.

Out of the 24,000 journals published today, about 5% are gold, 80% are green, 
and 15% are "gray" (i.e., they have not yet given their green light to author 


Becoming gold entails some risk: because it is new, because it is not yet 
tested whether the cost-recovery model will work in the long-term, and 
because institutional funds are still 95% tied up in the subscription costs 
for the green and gray journals. There may eventually be a transition to 
gold; Springer/Kluwer's "open choice" policy is intended to offer authors and 
their institutions the choice now: Authors can either pay the publisher $3000 
to make their articles OA for them, or they can make their articles OA 
themselves, by self-archiving them. (Gold journals charge the 
author-institution between $500 and $1500 per article.)

So the only difference is that Springer/Kluwer offers authors the choice of 
paying for OA and Reed/Elsevier does not. Reed may eventually offer this 
choice too (not because of pressure, but to provide more options); there is, 
however, certainly no need for authors who desire the benefits of OA right 
now to wait until they can pay their publishers to provide it for them. They 
can already do it themselves, with a few keystrokes, for free, today.

Stevan Harnad Les Carr Steve Hitchcock
Subject: Mandating OA around the corner?

In a recent message I suggested that some funding bodies may be moving to 
mandate OA publishing by their receipients, a view which was greeted by 
scepticism. A couple of recent messages in the OA listserv indicates that 
that the same thought is receiving an airing. Here is one of the messages, 
with apologies to those of you who may have already seen it.

------- Forwarded message -------
From: "Jim Till" <till@uhnres.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: Mandating OA around the corner?
Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2004 10:32:36 -0400

I agree with Simeon Warner that funding agencies should seriously consider a 
requirement that all publications resulting from research supported by such 
agencies must be deposited in open-access repositories.

This raises a question that hasn't been discussed recently by members of this 
Forum: Is there any funding agency, other than, I believe, the Danish 
Research Centre for Organic Farming (DARCOF), via it's Organic Eprints 
archive (see: http://orgprints.org/ ), that has done both of these: a) 
mandates open access to the results of research funded by that agency, and, 
b) has established it's own knowledge-transfer-oriented eprints archive?

For example, such an archive could be used (instead of, or in addition to) the 
grantees' own preferred institutional (or, discipline-based) open-access 

A reminder: Peter Suber has developed a draft version of an open-access policy 
for foundation research grants, and has discussed some of the issues that 
need to be considered:

Model Open-Access Policy for Foundation Research Grants Draft 8. March 7, 


An example of one of the issues that Peter has considered (see: "Term 10. When 
the open-access condition is violated):

"If compelling recipients to repay the grant is too strong, and compelling 
late open-access dissemination is too weak, then foundations might consider 
some intermediate options. For example, the foundation could reserve some 
additional "incentive funds" to be released only when the recipient has 
provided open access to works based on previous funds. Or the foundation 
could simply make non-complying recipients ineligible for future grants".

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