OA mandate at the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance

The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance has strengthened its OA policy from a request to a requirement.  (Thanks to Jim Till.)

From the old policy (adopted April 2007):

CBCRA requests that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants.  CBCRA requests that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants. These articles will be posted on the CBCRA Open Access Archive as soon as possible after publication. A publisher’s embargo period of up to six months will be permitted….

From the new policy (revised April 2009):

CBCRA requires that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants, to be posted in the CBCRA Open Access Archive, as soon as possible after publication. A publisher’s embargo period of up to six months will be permitted….


  • In addition to the new language mandating deposit in the OA repository, the new policy encourages grantees to retain the right to authorize OA through the repository.  Kudos to all involved.
  • Also see my post from October 2007 calling for precisely this change, and my other past posts on the CBCRA.

Swords and plowshares: harvesting online knowledge

Mark Rutherford, Reading machine to snoop on Web, CNet News, June 27, 2009.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

What if the wisdom of Web could be yours, without having to read through it one page at a time? That’s what the military wants.

DARPA has hired a company to develop a reading machine to reduce the gap between the ever increasing mountain of digitized text and the intelligence community’s insatiable appetite for data input.

BBN Technologies was awarded the $29.7 million contract to develop a universal text engine capable of capturing knowledge from written matter and rendering it into a format that artificial intelligence systems (AI) and human analysts can work with. (PDF)

The military will use the Machine Reading Program, as it’s officially called, to automatically monitor the technological and political activities of nation states and transnational organizations –which could mean everything from al-Qaeda to the U.N….

BBN also expects the program to enable a plethora of new civilian applications, everything from intelligent bots to personal tutors. The system could provide unprecedented access and automated analysis of the world’s libraries, allowing for vastly expanded cultural awareness and historical research….

BBN already offers a broadcast monitoring system that automatically transcribes real-time audio stream and translates it into English, creating a continuously updated, searchable archive of international television broadcasts….

Update.  Also see our past posts on open source intelligence.

Version 1.0 of the Open Database License

The Open Data Commons has released version 1.0 of the Open Database License (ODbL).  From today’s announcement:

The Open Database License (ODbL) is an open license for data and databases which includes explicit attribution and share-alike requirements.

This license, the first of its kind, is a major step forward for open data. There are currently very few licenses available suited to data and databases and none which provide for share-alike (existing share-alike licenses such as the GPL, GFDL and CC By-SA are all unsuitable for data).

The development of the ODbL, has been a major effort extending over more than one and half years with an intensive consultation and review period for the last 6 months. We’d like to express our thanks to the communities and individuals who have contributed during this time.

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Open Database License –and our past posts on the Science Commons alternative (Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data), which favors the unrestricted public domain over open licenses for data.

A career in OA publishing

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., A Look Back at Twenty Years as an Internet Open Access Publisher, June 28, 2009.  Excerpt:

…In August 1989, I began my scholarly digital publishing efforts, launching one of the first e-journals on the Internet, The Public-Access Computer Systems Review.  This journal, if it was published today, would be called a "libre" open access journal since it was freely available, allowed authors to retain their copyrights, and had special copyright provisions for noncommercial use.

Aside from Public-Access Computer Systems News (also "libre" open access), my subsequent digital publications, such as the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, were "gratis" open access until 2004, when all new versions of existing publications and new publications became "libre" open access under various versions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

For current information about my publication activities, see "Brief Resume of Charles W. Bailey, Jr." and "Selected Publications of Charles W. Bailey, Jr." …

Below is a chronology of my digital publishing efforts from June 1989 through June 2009….

Also see the abridgment, A Brief Look Back at Twenty Years as an Internet Open Access Publisher, June 28, 2009.

A new model for OA repositories

Laurent Romary and Chris Armbruster, Beyond Institutional Repositories, a preprint, self-archived June 26, 2009.

Abstract:   The current system of so-called institutional repositories, even if it has been a sensible response at an earlier stage, may not answer the needs of the scholarly community, scientific communication and accompanied stakeholders in a sustainable way. However, having a robust repository infrastructure is essential to academic work. Yet, current institutional solutions, even when networked in a country or across Europe, have largely failed to deliver. Consequently, a new path for a more robust infrastructure and larger repositories is explored to create superior services that support the academy. A future organization of publication repositories is advocated that is based upon macroscopic academic settings providing a critical mass of interest as well as organizational coherence. Such a macro-unit may be geographical (a coherent national scheme), institutional (a large research organization or a consortium thereof) or thematic (a specific research field organizing itself in the domain of publication repositories).

The argument proceeds as follows: firstly, while institutional open access mandates have brought some content into open access, the important mandates are those of the funders and these are best supported by a single infrastructure and large repositories, which incidentally enhances the value of the collection (while a transfer to institutional repositories would diminish the value). Secondly, we compare and contrast a system based on central research publication repositories with the notion of a network of institutional repositories to illustrate that across central dimensions of any repository solution the institutional model is more cumbersome and less likely to achieve a high level of service. Next, three key functions of publication repositories are reconsidered, namely a) the fast and wide dissemination of results; b) the preservation of the record; and c) digital curation for dissemination and preservation. Fourth, repositories and their ecologies are explored with the overriding aim of enhancing content and enhancing usage. Fifth, a target scheme is sketched, including some examples. In closing, a look at the evolutionary road ahead is offered.

Yet Another Trojan Horse: “Outsource Your Institutional Repositories”

If universities were to prove foolish enough to scrap their own Institutional Repositories, renouncing their efforts to reclaim custody of their own research assets at long last, to heed instead the siren call urging that they entrust them yet again to 3rd parties — and commercial ones like scribd, to boot — then, frankly, they are unsalvageable and deserve everything that’s coming to them.

I don’t for a minute, however, believe that the Academy would fall for this, having been once bitten, now twice shy, any more than they are falling for the concerted bid by some publishers to “leave the openaccess archiving to us!

Rather, this is a highly anomalous and dysfunctional era of academic “outsourcing” that is happily nearing its well-deserved end.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

Friend of OA to help open up government data in Australia

The Australian government has appointed Brian Fitzgerald to its Government 2.0 Taskforce, which is charged with opening access to non-sensitive government information.  Fitzgerald is the head of the Queensland University of Technology Open Access to Knowledge Law Project.

Also see our past posts on Fitzgerald and his OA work, and our post on the launch of the Government 2.0 Taskforce.  (Congratulations, Brian!)

More on the history of OA and the preprint culture in physics

Richard Poynder, Open Access and the A-Bomb, Open and Shut?  June 22, 2009.  Excerpt:

Many have wondered why the first scientists to embrace Open Access (OA) were physicists.

That physicists were the OA trailblazers is not in doubt: it was, after all, theoretical physicist Paul Ginsparg who in 1991 created the seminal physics preprint repository arXiv….

Maybe because physicists have been sharing paper preprints with one another for decades? OA advocate Eberhard Hilf tells me that this began as long ago as 1932, when the Italian Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi started to routinely mail preprints of his papers to colleagues prior to publishing them….

In this light, arXiv was simply a digital manifestation of a practice that began long before the Internet….

Miriam Blake head of the library at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)…was kind enough to ask one of her colleagues – LANL librarian Michelle Garcia – to see if she could find any reference to an OA mandate in the Los Alamos archives….

A few days later I had an email from Garcia. There was no mention of a mandate in her message, but she did send me something of greater inherent interest: a link to the 1945 Smyth Report.

The Smyth Report, Garcia explained, is “the earliest example of any kind of acknowledgement on the need for public release of information specifically on the development of atomic energy by the US government. Following the Smyth Report, there was a declassification program headed by a committee of senior scientists that led the Manhattan Project, which came up with the declassification guidelines in 1946.” …

As the preface to the Report puts it, “The ultimate responsibility for our nation’s policy rests on its citizens and they can discharge such responsibilities wisely only if they are informed.”

[T]he Smyth Report stressed that scientific information should be released to the public not because its creation had been funded by taxpayers, but because it would enable them to make informed decisions about how the science should be used….

Back to the question of why physicists were the first to embrace OA: Could it be that the US atomic weapons declassification program helped create the preprint culture characteristic of the particle physics community?

In other words, in being asked to think through the reasons for and against making their research freely available, could it be that physicists became acculturated into assuming that the default position should be one in which scientific information is made as widely available as possible, as soon as possible – on the assumption that in most cases the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages? …