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ICSTI: news items

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: ICSTI: news items
  • From: Pete Strickland <ps@iucr.org>
  • Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 17:06:17 +0100
  • Organization: IUCr
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Subject: AAP appeals for rejection of Open Access appropriation by US Congress

From Peter Suber's blog:

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has launched an emergency appeal 
to its members to stop the Appropriations Committee's open-access plan. AAP 
President Pat Schroeder has written to the members of the AAP, members of the 
Appropriations Committee, the NIH Director (Elias Zerhouni) and the 
President's Science Advisor (John Marburger) urging them to oppose the plan. 
She is asking AAP members to phone and fax their members of Congress today.

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Subject: UK House of Commons Report on STI published

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published its 
Report on Scientific Publishing.

The report has no particular legislative significance although the Government 
is required to 'take note' and react.

An extract from the Summary:

"This Report recommends that all UK higher education institutions establish 
institutional repositories on which their published output can be stored and 
from which it can be read, free of charge, online. It also recommends that 
Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their funded 
researchers to deposit a copy of all of their articles in this way. The 
Government will need to appoint a central body to oversee the implementation 
of the repositories; to help with networking; and to ensure compliance with 
the technical standards needed to provide maximum functionality. Set–up and 
running costs are relatively low, making institutional repositories a 
cost–effective way of improving access to scientific publications. 
Institutional repositories will help to improve access to journals but a more 
radical solution may be required in the long term. Early indications suggest 
that the author–pays publishing model could be viable. We remain unconvinced 
by many of the arguments mounted against it. Nonetheless, this Report 
concludes that further experimentation is necessary, particularly to 
establish the impact that a change of publishing models would have on learned 
societies and in respect of the “free rider” problem. In order to encourage 
such experimentation the Report recommends that the Research Councils each 
establish a fund to which their funded researchers can apply should they wish 
to pay to publish. The UK Government has failed to respond to issues 
surrounding scientific publications in a coherent manner and we are not 
convinced that it would be ready to deal with any changes to the publishing 
process. The Report recommends that Government formulate a strategy for 
future action as a matter of urgency"

Note also the recommendation that a specific fund be created by the funding 
bodies to pay for publishing.....

A pdf version of the report (118 pages) is at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmsctech/399/399.pdf

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Subject: PUBLICATION OF REPORT: SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS: FREE FOR ALL?
SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS: FREE FOR ALL?

The Science and Technology Committee today publishes its Tenth Report of 
Session 2003-04, Scientific Publications: Free for all? (HC 399-I). The 
Committee concludes that the current model for scientific publishing is 
unsatisfactory. An increase in the volume of research output, rising prices 
and static library budgets mean that libraries are struggling to purchase 
subscriptions to all the scientific journals needed by their users.

The Report recommends that all UK higher education institutions establish 
institutional repositories on which their published output can be stored and 
from which it can be read, free of charge, online. It also recommends that 
Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their funded 
researchers to deposit a copy of all of their articles in this way.

The Committee concludes that the creation of institutional repositories is an 
important first step towards a more radical change in the way that scientific 
papers are published. Early indications suggest that the author-pays 
publishing model could be viable and the Committee remains unconvinced by 
many of the arguments mounted against it. Nonetheless, this Report concludes 
that further experimentation is necessary, particularly to establish the 
impact that a change of publishing models would have on learned societies and 
in respect of the "free rider" problem. In order to encourage such 
experimentation the Report recommends that the Research Councils each 
establish a fund to which their funded researchers can apply should they wish 
to pay to publish. The Report criticises the UK Government for failing to 
respond to issues surrounding scientific publications in a coherent manner. 
The Committee is not convinced that it would be ready to deal with any 
changes to the publishing model and calls for the formulation of a strategy 
as a matter of urgency.

The preservation of digital material is an expensive process that poses a 
significant technical challenge. The Report recommends that the British 
Library receives sufficient funding to enable it to carry out this work. 
Government needs to start work on new regulations for the legal deposit of 
non-print publications immediately. The market for scientific publications is 
international. The UK cannot act alone. For this reason the Committee 
recommends that the UK Government act as a proponent for change on the 
international stage and lead by example. This will ultimately benefit 
researchers across the globe.

Chairman of the Committee, Dr Ian Gibson, said "Publishers are feathering 
their nests with big profits whilst scientific journals are becoming less and 
less affordable. Government has its head in the sand: it's about time that it 
landed in the in-tray of the Ministers in question. Instead of bashing all 
the alternatives, commercial publishers should be asked to justify the 
current publishing process they use. The Open Access movement needs to iron 
out the teething problems with the author-pays model. It's public money that 
oils the cogs of the publishing machine and we want to make sure that it's 
well spent."

Hard copies of the Report can be obtained from TSO outlets and from the 
Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square, London SW1A 2JX 
(020 7219 3890) by quoting HC 399-I. The text of the Report will also be 
available via the Committees internet homepage: 
www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/s&thome.htm

-------------------------------------------------------
Subject: UK House of Commons Report on STI published
Comment by Herbert GRUTTEMEIER

I did not read all of the 118 pages yet, but in the summary the word 'mandate' 
appears in the context of self-archiving in institutional repositories only, 
not that of OA journals. This is made more precise in paragraph 117 of the 
report:

"Academic authors currently lack sufficient motivation to self-archive in 
institutional repositories. We recommend that the Research Councils and other 
Government funders mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all 
their articles in their institution's repository within one month of 
publication or a reasonable period to be agreed following publication, as a 
condition of their research grant. An exception would need to be made for 
research findings that are deemed to be commercially sensitive."

Such a policy would give a strong support to what Stevan Harnad calls the 
'green road' to Open Access, whereas the 'golden road' (OA journals), if I 
understand it well, is part of "a more radical solution" to be possibly 
required in the long term.

At the same time the Committee admits, paragraph 113, that

"Institutional repositories will only generate increased access to UK research 
findings if:
- all publishers allow their authors to self-archive without constraint (see 
paragraph 111);
- all UK research institutions establish and maintain repositories; and
- all UK academics deposit copies of their articles in their institution's 
repository."

I suppose that "without constraint" means in particular that it is the 
refereed journal-accepted version (postprint) that can be self-archived. Will 
the report be helpful to achieve this goal? Can it be rapidly achieved by 
recommending (paragraph 126) " that, as part of its strategy for the 
implementation of institutional repositories, Government ascertain what 
impact a UK-based policy of author copyright retention would have on UK 
authors." Then the word 'mandate' appears again: "Providing that it can be 
established that such a policy should not have a disproportionately negative 
impact, Research Councils and other Government funders should mandate their 
funded researchers to retain the copyright on their research articles, 
licensing it to publishers for the purposes of publication."

The Committee is less enthusiastic than S. Harnad about Elsevier's 
self-archiving policy. Harnad had warmly welcomed Elsevier's transition from 
a "pale green" to a "bright green" publisher, whereas the Committee estimates 
(paragraph 112) that "there are a number of serious constraints to 
self-archiving in the model proposed by Elsevier", who, by the way, is 
suspected to have "timed the announcement of its new policy on self-archiving 
to pre-empt the publication of this Report".

As for the cooperation with publishers in general, the Committee, although it 
"see[s] institutional repositories as operating alongside the publishing 
industry", seems less optimistic than S. Harnad who, in a recent mail on his 
discussion list, considers "evidence of the possibility of peaceful 
co-existence between OA via self-archiving and the continuing support of the 
journals that have given it their green light ".
---------------------------------------------------------

Best wishes

Peter Strickland
Managing Editor
IUCr Journals

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