The Golden Road and the Green Driver

Quote/commentary on the replies of Johannes Fournier [JF] to Richard Poynder in
The Open Access Interviews: Johannes Fournier, speaking for the Global Research Council.”

JF: “Personally, I see one definite advantage of the Golden Road: it brings with it clear regulations as regards re-use. Contrastingly, self-archiving will often not provide the legal basis that allows for specific forms of re-use like text-and data-mining.”

This is the classic example of “letting the ‘best’ become the enemy of the ‘better'”.

Free-access (“Gratis OA“) is within reach (via universal Green OA mandates), free-access-plus-re-use-rights (“Libre OA”) is not.

Re-use is use-less without access, and we are nowhere near having free-access to all, most, or much of the journal-article corpus.

Or, to put it another way, the first and foremost “use” is access. So losing more of the precious time (and use) that has already been lost by continuing to over-reach for re-use rights when users don’t even grasp the use that is already within reach, is, for want of a better word, a persistent head-shaker in the slow, sad saga of OA.

JF: “My views on self-archiving mandates are grounded in the philosophy of the organisation that employs me. The DFG is self-governed by researchers? And researchers don?t like to be forced to do things, they like to be supported and encouraged. For that reason, the DFG encourages open access by funding opportunities that facilitate providing research results in open access.”

If one thing has been learnt from the slow, sad saga of OA (now at least two decades old) it is that mandating OA works, but encouraging it doesn’t.

And neither the DFG nor DFG researchers are any different in this regard. The notion that mandating OA would be an illegal constraint on academic freedom in the DFG remains just as wrong-headed today as it has been since the first day it began to be endlessly parroted — as wrong-headed as the notion that mandating “publish or perish” (which is, of course, mandated in the DFG, just as it is everywhere else in the research world) would be an illegal constraint on academic freedom in the DFG.

JF: “a dichotomy between Green and Gold tends to obscure the question we really need to ask ourselves: what kind of mechanisms could be designed in order to shift money from acquisition budgets into publication funds? Because the transition to open access will only succeed if we find ways to reinvest those funds which are already used to pay for information provision.”

The goal of Open Access to research is Open Access to research. If we had universal OA to research, the “serials crisis” would instantly become a minor matter rather than the life/death issue it is now (Think about it.)

But, yes, universal, sustainable OA will indeed entail a “shift [of] money from acquisition budgets into publication funds.” The missing causal component in this irreproachable reasoning, however, is: “what will drive that shift?”.

And that missing causal component (again: think about it) is universal mandatory Green OA self-archiving. (I will not, yet again, spell out the causal contingencies. See here and here.)

JF: “the need to buy the subscription content remains. Yet although the transition requires additional money, it might not be necessary to really pay twice: one could operate more economically if the subscription prices for a local library or for a consortium were adjusted to the growth of publication fees. That?s how to avoid so-called double-dipping? I know this sounds very simple and might be rather complex in its implementation, especially because the implementation is likely to require that the funding streams are readjusted.”

The “implementation” might be rather complex indeed, without mandatory Green OA to drive down costs and force the shift. About as complex as alleviating world hunger, disease or poverty by likewise “readjusting funding streams”…

Latest Article Alert from BMC Public Health

The latest articles from BMC Public Health, published between 22-Mar-2013 and 29-Mar-2013

For articles which have only just been published, you will see a ‘provisional PDF’ corresponding to the accepted manuscript.
A fully formatted PDF and full text (HTML) version will be made available soon.

Study protocol
Protocol of a randomized controlled trial of sun protection interventions for operating

#openaccess; Let’s get rid of “Green” “Gold” and use precise language such as “CC-BY”. And be joyous.

Cameron Neylon has written a compelling article and why we should get rid of “Green” “Gold” “Open Access” as meaningful labels. Because they no longer mean anything. They are as useful as “healthy” in a burger advertisement. I’m not going to repeat Cameron’s arguments – just read them yourself and redistribute.

Most publishers now produce inconsistent quasi-legal rubbish on their web pages. The try to write terms and conditions that are meaningful and normally they aren’t. They are almost an insult to readers (most of whom are actually intelligent knowledgeable humans). There is a spectrum of rubbish, varying from specialist departments of “Universal Access” whose business is in producing platitudes and not answering questions, to others that think that “all-rights-reserved” means something.

I was alerted to an article in IOP (Don’t switch off – it’s about building Klingon-like cloaking devices)

New Journal of Physics
Volume 15 March 2013

J C Soric et al 2013 New J. Phys.
15 033037 doi:10.1088/1367-2630/15/3/033037

Demonstration of an ultralow profile cloak for scattering suppression of a finite-length rod in free space


And I could READ it! It proclaims:

Great – it’s CC-BY. I can download it and feed it to #ami2 – our semantic program for extracting science from PDFs. But can #ami2 use it? I’d better check…

I look for the terms that refer to an individual like me – and my #ami2. I don’t seem to have many rights (my emphasis):

You may access, download, store, search and print hard copy of text.  Copying must be limited to making a single printed copy or electronic copies of a reasonable number of individual articles or other similar items.  No text accessed via the Service may be made available to a third party, either for commercial reward or free of charge, except that for inter-library loan purposes a single paper copy of an electronic original may be made and sent non-digitally to a library in the same country as you under fair dealing/use exemptions.  In addition, for inter-library loan purposes, you may make a single paper copy of an electronic original available to a library in the same country by secure transmission using Ariel (or its equivalent) whereby that electronic file is deleted immediately after printing.  Such supply must be for the purpose of research or private study and not for commercial use or onward transmission or distribution.  In the USA, such copies may only be made in compliance with Section 108 of the Copyright Act of the USA and within CONTU guidelines.

[#ami2 asks me what an “Interlibrary loan” is. I tell her it’s a piece of paper. She crashes.]

So these TaC forbid me to (say) redistribute this article by posting it in a text-corpus – on Bitbucket – for mining. (That’s a really important activity, BTW).

We have a contradiction. And physics hates contradictions. I have always thought of the IoP as reasonably good guys (not all scientific societies fall into this classification). I think something needs fixing.

There is a spectrum of publisher attitudes to licences. At one end we have BMC, PLoS, eLife, peerJ Charlie, and Tim Gowers initiatives and Ubiquity Press and… They positively WANT people to re-use material. It’s honest. At the other end we have unnamed (because I will get sued) publishers who state they are “incredibly helpful” to people like me and somehow seem to make re-use impossible through fudge, inconsistency deliberately unhelpful licences, bad or non-existent labelling etc. Phrases on Open Access papers like “This journal is Copyright XYZ”. Yes, the *journal* is copyright but the paper is APC-paid Open Access and you haven’t the decency to tell the world. That’s weasel words and an insult to the authors and readers. Be honest and say

“This article is CC-BY”. Revere the authors. They want you to acknowledge them and use the article or bits of it for anything anywhere for any legal purpose and they rejoice in people making money out of it without their explicit permission because the more this happens the prouder they feel and the more others value them.

So maybe we need a joyous declaration on scholarly papers. After all Open Access is good and wonderful.

A; Open access means people can live and make a better planet. Not-A: Closed access means people die. A OR not-A ?

I agree there are technical difficulties in some of this. So why doesn’t OASPA produce a simple template for its OA publishers (the ones that actually believe in OA) making a clear positive statement that can be stuck on web pages. You are welcome to mine as a starting point.




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Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine publishes first articles

MGGMWe are delighted to announce that Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine (MGGM) has now published its first articles.

The journal opened for submissions at the end of 2012 and accepts submissions across the fields of genetic medicine and human molecular genetics. MGGM is edited by Dr Max Muenke.

The first articles to be published online are:

purple_lock_open Clinical and mutation analysis of 51 probands with anophthalmia and/or severe microphthalmia from a single center by Christina Gerth-Kahlert, Kathleen Williamson, Morad Ansari, Jacqueline K. Rainger, Volker Hingst, Theodor Zimmermann, Stefani Tech, Rudolf F. Guthoff, Veronica van Heyningen & David R. FitzPatrick
Summary: Mutations in three genes, SOX2, OTX2 and STRA6, account for 75% of the cases of severe bilateral eye malformations in a consecutive series of cases from a single centre. The phenotypic spectrum associated with mutations in each of these genes is wider than previously thought. We also report the first observation of a heterozygous loss-of-function allele of SOX2 that is inherited from an affected parent.

purple_lock_open Biochemical phenotype of a common disease-causing mutation and a possible therapeutic approach for the phosphomannomutase 2-associated disorder of glycosylation by Giuseppina Andreotti, Emilia Pedone, Assunta Giordano & Maria Vittoria Cubellis
Summary: Phosphomannomutase 2 deficiency represents the most frequent type of congenital disorders of glycosylation. For this disease there is no cure at present. We identified molecules that activate a common phosphomannomutase2 mutant and improve its thermophilicity, thermostability and resistance to proteases.

All of these articles are open access: free to read, download and share!

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Is DOAJ inadvertently promoting publisher power over scholars?

The Directory of Open Access Journals has a new feature, to narrow a search by Creative Commons licenses. This can be very useful for the article level search, as searchers may be looking for re-usable content. I use this type of limitation when searching flickr for photos that I can re-use, for example.

However, when this is used to calculate the percentage of DOAJ journals using a particular CC license, as Peter Suber does in this post this inadvertently makes the assumption that choice of licensing is made (should be made?) by journals and publishers, not by scholars.

Merely framing a research question in this way can limit the way that we think of potential answers. For example, there appears to be no way in this categorization to consider an approach such as that of First Monday, which provides authors with a range of choices. This is the option that I recommend for journals, the one that is most compatible with author choice and Freedom for scholarship in the internet age. The last thing that scholars need in the transition to open access is to replace subscription-publisher overlords with open access-publisher overlords.

This post is part of the Creative Commons and Open Access Critique series.

March Madness: PLOS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

1660014877_10c78dd1a9For the month of March, a variety of papers caught the media’s attention, from distracting cell phone conversations, to the devastating decline in forest elephants.  Here are some of the media highlights for this month:

Have you ever wondered where your hound originated from? In a paper featured this March, researchers have identified the fossil remains of the oldest domestic canine ancestor. In this study, researchers analyzed the DNA of a 33,000 year old tooth belonging to a Pleistocene dog from central Asia. In their evaluation of the fossil, they assessed its relationship to modern dogs and wolves’, concluding the tooth was more closely related to the domestic canine.

In another study, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have found that football players might sustain long-term brain injuries without ever having a concussion. 67 players who had never suffered a concussion underwent testing over the course of a season.  The testing, which included blood sampling, brain scans, cognitive and functional assessments, screened for potential brain damage among the participants. The researchers searched for S100B in the blood, an antibody linked to brain damage. This antibody was found in many of the participants, with the highest levels belonging to the players with the most hits.

Have you ever found yourself distracted when a co-worker is on a phone call? In an eye-catching paper published this month, PLOS ONE authors examined the effects on attention and memory when listening to cell phone conversations, versus two-sided conversations. The participants were assigned a task while two conversations were in progress, one on a cell phone, and another between two individuals.  After the task was completed, the participants were assigned a recognition memory task and questionnaire measuring the distracting nature of the conversation. The participants who overhead the cell phone conversation measured it as much more distracting compared to the two-sided conversation.

And in a fourth study capturing the attention of many, researchers have examined the decline of forest elephants in Central Africa. The study concludes that forest elephants are being poached at increasing rates. Poaching, in addition to the human population rise and the absence of anti-poaching law enforcement, is contributing to the elephant’s population decline. The analysis revealed that 62 percent of the African forest elephants have been eliminated in the last decade due to poaching.

These four papers are just a taste of the variety of papers published this month. For more research headlines, visit our site here.



Druzhkova AS, Thalmann O, Trifonov VA, Leonard JA, Vorobieva NV, et al. (2013) Ancient DNA Analysis Affirms the Canid from Altai as a Primitive Dog. PLoS ONE 8(3): e57754. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057754

Marchi N, Bazarian JJ, Puvenna V, Janigro M, Ghosh C, et al. (2013) Consequences of Repeated Blood-Brain Barrier Disruption in Football Players. PLoS ONE 8(3): e56805. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056805

Galván VV, Vessal RS, Golley MT (2013) The Effects of Cell Phone Conversations on the Attention and Memory of Bystanders. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58579. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058579

Maisels F, Strindberg S, Blake S, Wittemyer G, Hart J, et al. (2013) Devastating Decline of Forest Elephants in Central Africa. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59469. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059469

Image: by digitalART2 on Flickr

Food Science & Nutrition – Issue 1:2 now live!

Food Science & Nutrition CoverYou can read Issue 1:2 of Food Science & Nutrition online now!

The journal publishes articles relating to all aspects of human food and nutrition, as well as interdisciplinary research that spans these two fields.  Food Science & Nutrition is an open access, fully peer-reviewed journal providing rapid dissemination of research in all areas of food science and nutrition. 

Read all our open access articles online here>

Below are some top articles which Editor-in-Chief Dr. Y. Martin Lo has highlighted from the second issue.

purple_lock_openNoni juice reduces lipid peroxidation–derived DNA adducts in heavy smokers
Mian-Ying Wang, Lin Peng, Claude J. Jensen, Shixin Deng and Brett J. West

Summary: A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial revealed that noni juice may reduce lipid peroxidation–derived DNA adducts in the lymphocytes of heavy smokers. This effect is associated with antioxidant activity of noni juice and the presence of iridoids, the major phytochemical constituents of noni fruit.


Summary: Intact starch granules are an interesting stabilizer candidate for food grade Pickering emulsions. The stabilizing capacity of seven different intact starch granules for making oil-in-water emulsions has been the topic of this screening study. Among all types of starch studied quinoa had the predominantly best emulsifying properties and surprising long term stability over 2 years of storage.

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