Archive for August, 2008

An agreement between Max Planck Society and PLoS

Publication fees for OA articles in PLoS journals will be paid directly by the Max Planck Society (MPS). See: Max Planck Society covers publication fees for PLoS journals, Mark Patterson, PLoS Blog, August 21, 2008. Excerpt:

With the ever-expanding range of open access options available to authors, we encourage other research funders to set up funds to cover publication fees in open access journals or to include such expenses within their grants and research awards.

In a comment at: Max Planck Society to support publication charges for PLoS journals (in Coturnix’s Blog Around the Clock, on August 21), Stevan Harnad has posted “a critique of paying for Gold OA without first having mandated Green OA“. Excerpt:

At the very least, Closed Access deposit in EDOC can certainly be mandated for all MPS published research output as a purely administrative requirement, for internal record-keeping and performance-assessment. This is called the “Immediate Deposit, Optional Access” (IDOA) Mandate.

Comment: EDOC is the eDoc Server of the MPS. I agree that the IDOA strategy merits attention from the MPS, and from other funding agencies.


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European Commission’s OA Pilot

A noteworthy article: The European Commission’s Open Access Pilot for Research Articles: Frequently Asked Questions, eGov Monitor, August 20, 2008. Excerpts:

What is open access?

Under open access policies, authors published in research publications grant free Internet access to their scientific contributions, as well as the possibility to use them, subject to proper attribution of authorship[1]. Under open access, a complete version of the work and supplemental materials should be deposited in at least one online repository.

In the pilot launched today, open access means free of charge access for anyone over the internet to research articles resulting from EU funded research.

Open access to what?

The Commission’s open access pilot targets peer reviewed scientific journal articles that result from EU funded research.

However, the concept of open access can also apply to research data, images, etc.

Which parts of FP7 will be covered by the open access pilot?

The pilot covers approximately 20% of the FP7 budget and will apply to specific areas of research under the 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7):

    * Health
    * Energy
    * Environment
    * Information and Communication Technologies (Cognitive Systems, Interaction, Robotics)
    * Research Infrastructures (e-Infrastructures);
    * Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities;
    * Science in Society

These research areas have a potentially high societal impact and political relevance: they can help Europe face global challenges like climate change and the management of natural resources. They also make it possible to test open access for a variety of different disciplines, including a range of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, as well as both basic and applied research.

How will the open access pilot be implemented?

New grant agreements in the areas covered by the pilot will contain a clause requiring grant recipients to deposit peer reviewed research articles or final manuscripts resulting from their FP7 projects into their institutional or if unavailable a subject-based repository. They will have to make their best efforts to ensure open access to these articles within six or twelve months after publication, depending on the research area. This embargo period will allow scientific publishers to get a return on their investment.

Why are embargo periods running from 6 to 12 months instead of a single embargo period?

Scientific publishers draw attention to the fact that when considering open access policies, funding bodies should be aware that “one size does not fit all”. The length of time during which research results are novel and useful varies according to discipline. The results of research in rapidly changing disciplines in fields like energy, environment, health and ICT tend to become obsolete relatively quickly. The results of research in social science and the humanities, on the other hand, usually remain relevant for longer.

Other funding bodies have introduced embargo periods within this range. For example, the Wellcome Trust (UK) has set an embargo period of 6 months, the National Institutes of Health (USA) 12 months at the latest and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research 6 months.

As this is a pilot initiative, the different embargo periods allow the Commission to experiment and assess the impact of such embargo periods.

Comment: Yet another interesting OA experiment. The main novelty is the variable embargo periods that will be permitted during the pilot phase.

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Free versus Open Access

Juliet Walker has posted Free v. Open Access at the BMJ Group Blogs (August 15, 2008). Excerpts:

Recent changes to the BMJ’s copyright licence and the information it includes in research articles means that they can be formally listed as open access articles in PubMed Central and other repositories. So should we change the labels of open access research articles on our website from “free” to “open access”?

The term “open access” implies much more than just “free”. …

… [Peter] Suber has suggested the adoption of the terms “libre” and “gratis” to clarify precisely which type of open access we mean. “Gratis” would be used to mean removal of price barriers and “libre” would mean the removal of both price and permission barriers.

Whether these terms catch on remains to be seen, but what is clear is that open access needs to be more clearly defined. …

I posted this response (on August 19):

Open Access (OA) has been clearly defined several times. Unfortunately, some of the definitions have differed significantly, and no lasting consensus has emerged, other than that a necessary condition for OA is the removal of price barriers. However, that’s only the starting point. The differing perspectives of OA publishers, traditional subscription-based publishers, OA advocates, funders, editors and authors (for example, those authors who are also text- or data-miners) have yielded a variety of other conditions. Some versions of OA permit licenced reuse. Some permit deposition in an online repository for long-term archiving. The resulting muddle has been reviewed, from the perspective of an OA publisher, in an editorial by Catriona J. MacCallum, When Is Open Access Not Open Access? PLoS Biol 2007; 5(10): e285. See:

The final sentence in the editorial by Catriona J. MacCallum:

Perhaps the real key to establishing a broad consensus around the meaning of open access will be the development of resources that demonstrate the potential of unrestricted reuse of the literature—the “Lego factor.” If certain work is not included in these resources because of restrictive license agreements, authors will probably pay much closer attention to the claim that a publisher is “open access.” Enlightened self-interest can be a powerful force.

My own view: “Open Access” seems likely to continue to have multiple definitions, and those with different kinds of self-interest seem likely to continue to prefer different definitions. More categories than Peter Suber’s first two (“gratis OA” and “libre OA”) will probably be needed.

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