Archive for July, 2008

Randomised controlled trial of OA

A noteworthy pair of articles have been published by BMJ on July 31 (my thanks to Geoff Hynes for this information):

An editorial by Fiona Godlee, Open access to research, BMJ 2008(July 31);337:a1051.

A research article by Philip M Davis and 4 co-authors, Open access publishing, article downloads, and citations: randomised controlled trial, BMJ 2008(July 31);337:a568. Abstract:

Objective To measure the effect of free access to the scientific literature on article downloads and citations.

Design Randomised controlled trial.

Setting 11 journals published by the American Physiological Society.

Participants 1619 research articles and reviews.

Main outcome measures Article readership (measured as downloads of full text, PDFs, and abstracts) and number of unique visitors (internet protocol addresses). Citations to articles were gathered from the Institute for Scientific Information after one year.

Interventions Random assignment on online publication of articles published in 11 scientific journals to open access (treatment) or subscription access (control).

Results Articles assigned to open access were associated with 89% more full text downloads (95% confidence interval 76% to 103%), 42% more PDF downloads (32% to 52%), and 23% more unique visitors (16% to 30%), but 24% fewer abstract downloads (–29% to –19%) than subscription access articles in the first six months after publication. Open access articles were no more likely to be cited than subscription access articles in the first year after publication. Fifty nine per cent of open access articles (146 of 247) were cited nine to 12 months after publication compared with 63% (859 of 1372) of subscription access articles. Logistic and negative binomial regression analysis of article citation counts confirmed no citation advantage for open access articles.

Conclusions Open access publishing may reach more readers than subscription access publishing. No evidence was found of a citation advantage for open access articles in the first year after publication. The citation advantage from open access reported widely in the literature may be an artefact of other causes.


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Use of University of Toronto Repository for OA Requirements

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto has set up a webpage to help it’s researchers to comply with the OA requirements of the CIHR and the NIH. See: Open on-line access to publications: CIHR and NIH policies and management, June 26, 2008. Excerpts:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have recently posted policies mandating open online access to all published results of research funded by these agencies.

The University of Toronto showcases and preserves scholarly work of its research community through T-SPACE at the U of T Library. T-SPACE is a free, secure and permanent repository and will meet CIHR’s requirement, offering worldwide access to the broad spectrum of the U of T community’s scholarship. CIHR allows that its public access requirement may be met in a number of ways, including through submission to journals that offer immediate open access or permit an author to archive peer-reviewed manuscripts in a central or institutional repository within 6 months of publication. However, because T-SPACE not only allows faculty to adhere to CIHR’s policy respecting open access to publications, but also increases the visibility and research impact of posted publications – and provides usage statistics, the Faculty of Medicine requests that all members of our research community post all accepted publications in this repository.

While NIH requires the use of its PubMed Central database for compliance with its public access policy, future plans for T-SPACE include making it fully compliant with NIH public access policy through linkage to PubMed Central International, currently under development.

To help with the task of posting to T-SPACE, the Faculty has created this easy plan: simply CLICK HERE, complete the form and submit. Your publication will be added to the U of T repository, and you will receive a ticket number to verify and track the process.

Investigators may change the copyright agreements with publishers to meet CIHR and/or NIH policies by using the Author Addendum created by SPARC/CARL (, or one created for Science Commons. Both are freely available to facilitate communication with publishers.

A FAQS page is also available. An example: 6. What about copyright? Excerpt:

With T-Space, copyright is not transferred; instead the Faculty member grants the library a non-exclusive distribution and preservation license. T-SPACE also offers an optional legally binding Canadian Creative Commons license to further define appropriate use such as educational use only, share and share alike, etc.

At present, a news item about this webpage is posted on the DSpace home page, “University of Toronto Selects DSpace Repository for Open Access Requirement“, July 18, 2008. (My thanks to Rea Devakos for this information).

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Webcast of funder policy session at ELPUB 2008

The ELPUB 2008 Conference Schedule for June 27 included an afternoon Plenary Session entitled: “Funding Policies and Research Access – Round Table”. A webcast of this session is online, at: (My thanks to Geoff Hynes for the link to the webcast).

The session was chaired by Eve Gray (University of Cape Town) and the panelists were: Fred Friend (JISC), Geoff Hynes (CIHR), Neil Thakur (NIH), Kathleen Shearer (CARL) and Francis Ouellette (OICR).

The individual presentations in the webcast can be found in the following (approximate) time intervals:

Fred Friend (0-0.22); Geoff Hynes (0.23-0.41); Neil Thakur (0.42-0.52); Kathleen Shearer (0.53-1.05); Francis Ouellette (1:06-1:17). The presentations are followed by questions from the audience (1:18-1:38). The webcast has not been edited, and parts of the audio aren’t optimal (especially during the Q & A session).

Most of the remainder of the webcast involves a presentation by the Closing Speaker of the two Keynote Speakers, Stevan Harnad (1:45-2:44).

For the texts of other presentations at ELPUB 2008, see: Presentations and ELPUB 2008 Open Scholarship: Presentations and Authors.

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Article by Gunther Eysenbach about WebCite(R)

One of the presentations at the ELPUB 2008 Conference was Paper 378 by Gunther Eysenbach, entitled: “Preserving the scholarly record with WebCite(R) ( an archiving system for long-term digital preservation of cited webpages”. It’s a fascinating article. Excerpts (from a 12-page PDF):

From page 2/12:

WebCite is a tool specifically designed to be used by authors, readers, editors and publishers of scholarly material, allowing them to permanently archive cited “non-journal” Web material, such as cited homepages, wiki pages, blogs, draft papers accessible on the web, “grey” PDF reports, news reports etc. To prevent “link rot”, authors simply have to cite the WebCite snapshot ID and/or a link to the permanent WebCite URL, in addition to citing the original URL.

From page 3/12:

In 2005, the first journal [Journal of Medical Internet Research] announced using WebCite routinely 13, and dozens of other journals followed suit. Biomed Central, publisher of hundreds of open access journals, has been using WebCite routinely since 2005 (all URLs cited in Biomed Central articles are automatically archived by WebCite)2.

From page 10/12:

WebCite aims to make Internet material (any sort of digital objects) more “citable”, long-term accessible, and hence more acceptable for scholarly purposes. Without WebCite, Internet citations are deemed ephemeral and therefore are often frowned upon by authors and editors. However, it does not make much sense to ignore opinions, ideas, draft papers, or data published on the Internet (including wikis and blogs), not acknowledging them only because they are not “formally” published, and because they are difficult to cite. The reality is that in the age of the Internet, “publication” is a continuum, and it makes little sense to not cite (therefore acknowledge) for example the idea of a scholarly blogger, the collective wisdom of a wiki, ideas from an online discussion paper, or data from an online accessible dataset only because online material is not deemed “citable”.

From page 11/12:

While the primary pathway in the WebCite system is third-party initiated archiving (triggered by a citing author), WebCite also provides a very simple mechanism for authors to self-archive their own work.

From page 11/12:

WebCite puts the initiation of the archiving process into the hands of the scientific community, who – by virtue of citing it – decides what is considered worthy archiving.

From note 2, page 11/12:

It is important to understand that WebCite focuses on documents exclusively available on the web, not documents such as journal articles which can be assumed to be archived in libraries.

I’ve recently used WebCite to avoid any risk of “link rot” for three links that were included in my post Review of “The Access Principle”. These links have been added at the bottom of my review (and, a “Cite this page!” button has also been added at the bottom of my review, just in case someone might decide to cite it).

I’ve also recently tried WebCite as a means of self-archiving a few posts in this blog, as follows:

Till J. Assessing medical ethics journals. Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure blog. Self-Archived at WebCite® 2008-Jun-26 []

Till J. Assessing immunology journals. Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure blog. Self-Archived at WebCite® 2008-Jul-2 []

Till J. Assessing health services research journals. Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure blog. Self-Archived at WebCite® 2008-Jul-2 []

Till J. More baseline data from PubMed. Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure blog. Self-Archived at WebCite® 2008-Jul-2 []

These posts were selected because they provide data that might be cited in the future. They also serve to illustrate the usefulness of WebCite. The planned enhancements of WebCite that are outlined in Gunther Eysenbach’s article should increase its utility even more.

Cite this page!

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