Posts Tagged OA

Video on importance of OA for research from Kenya

Prof. Mary Abukutsa-Onyango discusses the importance of Open Access for research from Kenya and other African countries, Leslie Chan, Bioline News Blog, March 27, 2009. Video (08:45 min) posted March 27, 2010 on Vimeo and March 20, 2010 on YouTube. See also [FriendFeed entry].

About this video:

In an interview conducted by Leslie Chan of Bioline International, Prof. Mary Abukutsa-Onyango of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology discussed the challenges she faced when trying to publish her original research on African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) in “international” journals, and the importance of Open Access journals in Africa in ensuring that important research relevant to the continent are being published, read, and applied. The implications of Open Access for development in African countries were also discussed. The interview was recorded on Feb. 19th, 2010 at the University of Nairobi during a Workshop on Increasing the Impact of Research through Open Access, co-hosted by the University of Nairobi Library, eIFL.Net and Bioline International.

For an example of an article by Mary Abukutsa-Onyango in the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND), see: The role of home gardening in household food security in Butere division of Western Kenya, Musotsi, AA; Sigot, AJ & Onyango, MOA, AJFAND 2008; 8(4): 375-90. Abstract:

Gardening remains the most important method of food production for a majority of people in the developing world, yet high population density has put a lot of pressure on land as more of it is required for settlement. This has led to land fragmentation, which has negatively affected food production, hence, resulted in food insecurity. Food insecurity is a concern today in many parts of Kenya. Land use practices thus have to be intensified to maximize food production on the small land available. Home gardening has been identified as a means of providing all year round access to food for rural households. Home gardens can make a significant contribution in meeting daily household needs for better nutrition and health. A study was carried out among rural households in Butere division, western Kenya, to determine the role of home gardening on household food security. Simple random sampling was used to obtain a study population of 100 households, to whom an interview schedule and an observation checklist was administered. Twenty key informants were purposively sampled and responded to questionnaires. Data obtained were analyzed quantitatively. Pearson correlation coefficient was applied on home gardening indicators: size of land for home gardening, home garden crops and home garden livestock, and food security indicators: food stock and number of meals eaten daily by households. Results obtained showed that home gardening plays a significant role in food security of rural households with respect to size of land and food stock (0.336 at p≤0.01), and number of livestock and food stock (0.211 at p≤0.05). Home gardening did not play a significant role in food security with regard to home garden crops. Households, therefore, should be empowered and encouraged to improve their practice of home gardening to realize food security. Findings of this study will be useful to governmental and non-governmental bodies involved in promoting food security in the rural households.

See also the Bioline International entry for AJFND and the home page for AJFND Online.

Comment: One of Prof. Abukutsa-Onyango’s noteworthy comments about “the challenges she faced when trying to publish her original research on African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) in ‘international’ journals” was that the AIVs were dismissed by some people as ‘weeds’. See the article KENYA: No longer a weed, IRIN Africa, August 7, 2009.


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Whither blogging?

Two OA-related blogs that I’ve been following for quite a long time have recently undergone major changes. One is Caveat Lector, by Dorothea Salo, who has provided many credible (and readable) commentaries about repositories.This blog is no longer actively maintained. The reason? “It’s just too big” (excerpt from “Hanging up the keyboard“, June 23, 2009). She does continue to contribute to The Book of Trogool, where “an academic librarian confronts the way computers are changing academic research“.

Another major change is that Peter Suber, as of July 1, 2009, has curtailed his blogging on the Open Access News blog. Instead (among other activities) he’s tagging news items for the OA tracking project (OATP), via Connotea.

In addition to following the items tagged for the OATP, I’ve been paying attention to OA-related news items that are mentioned on Twitter and FriendFeed. See, for example, a search on Twitter for the hashtag #openaccess and a similar search on FriendFeed for #openaccess. These  searches can yield overlapping results, because posts from members of Twitter who are also members of FriendFeed will appear at both sites.

Because of Twitter and FriendFeed, the role of blogs may be evolving. For a relevant blog post, see: W(h)ither blogging and the library blogosphere?, by Meredith Farkas (July 22, 2009).  Excerpt:

With Twitter (and even more easily in FriendFeed) you can have the sort of discussion one might have in the comments of a blog post, nearly in real time. And it’s really cool, because you can feel much closer to the people you’re conversing with since the conversation is happening so quickly and in a single space that everyone is on equal footing in.

The comments about this blog post are also interesting. An example is Comment #17, posted by Walt Crawford. Excerpt:

Twitter et al (I really dislike the term “microblogging,” but can’t win that one) have, in a way, strengthened essay-length blogging while weakening short-form blogging (maybe)–and essays have always been harder to do than quick notes.

Meanwhile, a new OA journal has been announced: Journal of Scholarly and Research Communication. The International Editorial Board includes several people who have made pioneering contributions to the OA movement. An anecdote: I learned about the existence of this new journal via a FriendFeed entry from Bill Hooker (August 2, 2009). I then found that the same news was also available via a tweet from Shana Kimball (July 10, 2009) and a FriendFeed entry from Marin Dacos (July 20, 2009). Then, I noted that the new journal is mentioned by Peter Suber in the SPARC Open Access Newsletter of August 2, 2009. It’s also been bookmarked by Heather Morrison for the OATP (July 17, 2009). Unfortunately, at present, links to individual bookmarks in Connotea aren’t functioning properly. See: Update on recent and ongoing service problems for Connotea by Ian Mulvany (Nature Network, July 29, 2009).

Why the anecdote? I first became aware of the new journal via FriendFeed. This illustrates the advantage of short-form blogging as a means to disseminate news items.

Bora Zivkovic has compared Twitter and FriendFeed in PLoS ONE on Twitter and FriendFeed (March 30, 2009). Excerpt:

Despite online debates – which one is better: Twitter or FriendFeed, sometimes serious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek – the fact is that these are two different ‘animals’ altogether. Asking one to make a choice between the two is like asking one to make a choice between e-mail and YouTube – those are two different services that do different things. Thus, they are to be used differently. …

Comment: From the perspective of the OA movement, these microblogging services provide novel opportunities for wider dissemination of  information about OA. I regard these services as useful supplements to journal articles, blogs and mailing lists.

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The TA publishing model applied to an imaginary software company

The Price of Knowledge (about OA, from the University of Edinburgh’s magazine EuSci, Jan 2009, via the Neuronism blog). Excerpt:

I’ve set up a computer software company with a twist. Instead of going the usual route and hiring a team of programmers to develop my new applications, I solicit the public for them. On top of that, I don’t offer a penny. Regardless, people race to give me their brightest ideas before their friends can beat them to it. This allows me to cherry-pick the products I think will make the biggest impact on the marketplace. Of course, even the best submissions need a bit of polishing before they’re fit for general distribution. No problem. I just get a few of their amateur programming buddies to do the debugging for me – free of charge, obviously. All that’s left to do is package the software up and sell it right back to the masses. Easy money.

Of course the company I’ve just described is entirely fictional. Its business model, however, is not. It is exactly the strategy employed by many publishers of academic journals. …

Link via Twitter:

For additional excerpts, see: Another intro to OA, Peter Suber, Open Access News, March 8, 2009.

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Canadian Research Knowledge Network considers SCOAP3

From CARL – ABRC E-Lert # 315 / Cyberavis no. 315, February 27, 2009:

Global high-energy physics community tests waters with open access proposal, RE$EARCH MONEY, Volume 23, Number 3, February 27, 2009

Canada’s organization in charge of licensing journals for  university libraries will consider the global high-energy physics (HEP) community’s bold proposal to establish a new model of open access for journals, even though it is drawing mixed reactions within the library and broader academic communities. The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) agreed at its board meeting in January to proceed with an “expression of interest” to gauge support for becoming the Canadian focal point for SCOAP3.*

[*Text adapted from source]

SCOAP3 is the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics. For past posts in Open Access News about SCOAP3, see: search results.

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On enabling OA

A few thoughts on the heels of Berlin 6 by Cornelius Puschmann, CorpBlawg, November 15, 2008. Excerpts:

There is still the belief among many involved in financing, supporting and disseminating research that those who undertake it have both the ability and the motivation to “move to open access” by themselves. I don’t believe that this is true. Many junior researchers who might be in favor of OA cannot choose freely where they want to publish, because the wrong choice is a risk to their career. Many senior researchers who have the influence and standing in their discipline to drive a paradigm shift do not embrace OA because the formats, publishing channels and procedures involved are unfamiliar and appear unreliable to them. But at the core, neither of these issues is decisive.

The pivotal problem is that most researchers, regardless of where they stand on the career ladder, are not impacted personally by whether or not something is Open Access, and that their perspective as individuals, and not the common good, shapes their views.


I believe that one very effective way of enabling OA in the long term is to push for entirely new forms of publishing, forms that are ‘OA by nature’, such as blogs and wikis. The entrenched forms are conceptually associated with the entrenched system and it will probably be harder to disassociate the one from the other than to popularize entirely new forms of science communication (i.e. ‘journal’ and ‘article’ are conceptually associated with ‘paper’, ‘commercial publisher’ and ’subscription’, while ‘blog’ and ‘wiki’ aren’t).

New forms of scholarly communication that have novel advantages over existing forms will be adopted not because they are open (because, as outlined above, by itself that hardly matters) but because they offer specific benefits to the individual scholar. Obviously they will exist side by side with established forms. But they could act as a catalyst that raises awareness among researchers for the benefits of Open Access, because the reach and openness of hypertext publishing is what makes it so attractive.

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Harold Varmus interviewed

Dr Varmus, I presume? By David Worlock, Outsell’s Thinking Out Loud, October 15, 2008. Excerpts:

October 14 was the foundation date for PLoS Biology, as well as the designated Open Access Day, so the 300 STM publishers gathered at the STM Association’s annual meeting on that day at the Frankfurt Book Fair to hear this interview needed no reminder of the significance of Dr Varmus’ work. They may have been surprised, however, when he spoke as a publisher himself and shared some of his five years of experience.


The foundation of PLoS One as a fast track publication mode based on review of technical competence and eligibility, rather than scientific standing or originality, had been a great success, with a high proportion of submissions being accepted at a lower $1200 fee. The peer reviewed journals now had high reputations, and rejected some 90% of submissions, but had needed to raise fees beyond his forecast of five years ago to cover costs.


He is plainly interested by search tools and analysis, and while it remains his conviction that repositories like PubMed are a critical component, he wants to see the urge of scientists to cross search the literature on factors and issues of their own choosing as vital to eventual success, regardless of the conventional structures of current article publishing.


And in terms of new developments, he certainly sees the article as a work in progress, and was particularly strong on the need, where privacy and data regulation permitted, for more of the evidential base to be exposed to allow other scientists to examine the data from which conclusions had been drawn, and subject it to their own analytical techniques.

Recommendation: Read the entire text of the blog post from which these excerpts were taken.

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Book on Open Access

Information about a book entitled: “Science Dissemination using Open Access” is available via:


This book aims to guide the scientific community on the requirements of Open Access, and the plethora of low-cost solutions available. A compendium of selected literature on Open Access is presented to increase the awareness of the potential of open publishing in general.

The book also aims to encourage decision makers in academia and research centers to adopt institutional and regional Open Access Journals and Archives to make their own scientific results public and fully searchable on the Internet.

Editors: Enrique Canessa and Marco Zennaro
Publisher: ICTP – The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (Trieste, Italy)
First edition: July 2008
PDF (6.1 MB): 207 pages.

From the “Credits”:

This book was prepared for the ICTP Workshop on “Using Open Access Models for Science Dissemination” held in Trieste, Italy in July 2008 carried out in collaboration with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP).

Part 1 is entitled: “Selected Literature”, and provides background information about Open Access, including sections on “Open Access to science in Developing Countries”.

Part 2, beginning on page 135/207 of the PDF (page 125 of the book), is entitled “Software”. There are sections on EPrints, DSpace, Self-Archiving, Open Access archives (ArXiv, Open Access services at ICTP, HAL), E-LIS, Open Journals System, Topaz and CDS Invenio.

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Editorial on OA

As noted by Peter Suber in Another TA editorial on OA (Open Access News, September 1, 2008), there’s an editorial in the Wiley-Blackwell journal Epilepsia, entitled: Public (open) access policy, by Philip A Schwartzkroin and Simon D Shorvon, Epilepsia 2008(Aug); 49(8): 1295.

The editorial (which isn’t freely accessible) summarizes information that can freely accessed via Wiley-Blackwell and Open Access.

It’s noteworthy that Wiley-Blackwell will post the accepted versions of articles by NIH grant-holders to PubMed Central, to be made publicly available 12 months after publication. However, the full text of articles in Epilepsia are already freely accessible online after one year. So, unless or until the NIH public access policy is modified from permitting a 12-month embargo on OA to a mandate the only permits shorter embargoes (such a 6 months), little has been gained from mandating the deposition, into the PubMed Central repository, of NIH-supported postprints that have been accepted for publication in Wiley-Blackwell journals.

Added September 2, 2008: Another Wiley-Blackwell journal has published an editorial, by Allan D Kirk and Daniel R Salomon, entitled: AJT’s Response to the National Institutes of Health Public Access Regulations, American Journal of Transplantation, published online August 22 2008. See: Another TA response to the the NIH OA policy, Peter Suber, Open Access News, September 1, 2008.

Again, the editorial isn’t OA, and has no abstract. However, one sentence in the editorial is especially noteworthy:

In response to this new regulatory mandate, the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Transplantation has unanimously approved a new policy that all publications accepted to the Journal, regardless of their source of funding support, will be automatically posted to the National Library of Medicine PubMed Central upon acceptance. Articles will be automatically available within the 1-year time frame required by the NIH.

Unlike research articles in the Wiley-Blackwell journal Epilepsia, the new access policy of the American Journal of Transplantation will be applicable to “all publications accepted to the Journal, regardless of their source of funding support“. However, it should be pointed out that research articles in the American Journal of Transplantation, like those in Epilepsia, are OA one year after publication. See: Wiley-Blackwell Open Access Backfiles.

So, again, little has been gained from mandating the deposition, into the PubMed Central repository, of NIH-supported postprints that have been accepted for publication in this Wiley-Blackwell journal.

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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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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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