Semantic Physical Science Workshop

We (Charlotte Bolton and I) are preparing the material for the Semantic Physical Science Workshop in January (10/12). A major feature of this is our Jumbo-Converters which convert legacy log files to semantic CML. To do that we are cleaning up and testing the code – which runs to probably tens of thousands of lines designed by Jim Downing and Sam Adams and implemented mainly by me.

To make it usable it has to be cleaned of historical cruft, tested and documented , probably all together and iteratively. We’ve had several iterations of wrappers for J-C including two versions of “Lensfield”. Currently it looks like we are going back to a much simpler commandline-interface, and putting some responsibility on the user to write the wrapper. This is a common problem – workflows are hard and local and don’t seem to generalise or abstract well. Moreover when you commit to one it’s very hard to remove and change to another. So, as we have done with OSCAR, we’ve whittled away the wrapper stuff.

We didn’t get as far as we’d hoped for today, because of this:

It’s a Sparrowhawk (Accipiter Nisus) and although we have seen them in our garden from time to time, this one – a female – has started to use our spruce tree as its dining table. Sparrowhawks eat mainly birds (superb article in Wikipedia where we learn that this one might eat 1500 Great Tits a year. This looked like it was eating a Blackbird and we recovered the following

Which I am guessing is a female blackbird (Turdus Merula).

We managed to get the photo with my birdwatching telescope and a phone equivalent pointed at the eyepiece.

Since the hawk takes about an hour to eat a bird and because it went off for another one and came back again, it took up a lot of our time. So the evening will have to make up for what I didn’t manage during the day.

Selling out feminism: 100 photocopies for $3,607

Would you like your students to read 

Selling (out) Feminism: Sustainability of ideology –viability tensions in a competitive marketplace by Suzy D'Enbeau & Patrice M.Buzzanell? Communication Monographs 2011, 78:1, p. 27-52?

The cost for rights to photocopy 100 copies for library reserve is $3,607, according to the Copyright Clearance Centre. This photocopy right does not get you the article itself to copy.  In contrast, here are three options for full open access that cost more than two thirds less than this publisher wishes to charge for another photocopies for a hundred students:

Printing copies for library reserve is likely of limited relevance nowadays, but good luck trying to research the costs for other re-use rights. I have tried a number of Quick Price options from the Copyright Clearance Centre, and here is the typical response that I get:
Pricing for this request requires the approval of Taylor & Francis Permissions Representative. You will be notified of the price before order confirmation. The processing period may take up to fifteen business days.
Communication Monographs is published on behalf of the National Communication Association by multinational conglomerate informa.plc through its traditional-sounding brand Routledge / Taylor & Francis.


Edgar, B. D., & Willinsky, J.(2010) (In press). A survey of the scholarly journals using open journalsystems. Scholarly and ResearchCommunication, Retrieved August 27, 2011 from

Let’s raise the floor: a proposal for Creative Commons – fair copyright, CC-free to use, rewrite noncommercial and add public domain perpetual

This post is intended as a contribution to the Creative Commons (CC) 4.0 public discussion. Please submit any comments to the appropriate CC discussion list.


This post suggests raising the floor by creating a new CC-fair copyright for works that are not freely available. This will be counter-intuitive to many a commonser, but note that this would give consumers a great way to exert pressure for fair copyright. A new CC-free to use / all rights reserves licenses is suggested, reflecting CC Version 4.0 discussions suggesting the possibility of breaking noncommercial into a stronger and a weaker license – this would be the more restricted version. Wording is suggested for noncommercial per se to clarify that educational use is not commercial, therefore permitted, and asks whether public domain should be redefined as CC-Sharelike (preferably in perpetuity). A question is raised about advertising – is this really a commercial issue, or in part a matter of creators’ moral rights?


Creative Commons – fair copyright
The idea is to create a new license for use with works that are not free at all, to indicate that the licensor supports and agrees to what we would like to see with copyright, including a broad set of fair use / fair dealing guidelines and a commitment to place works in the public domain in a reasonable time frame. By this I mean not current national or international law, but rather the best practices for fair use / fair dealing that we would all like to see as a minimum. Suggestions as to what this would be would be most welcome – perhaps an advocacy group for fair copyright has guidelines that would suit?


Strengths of this approach include:

  • This would give consumers – from individuals to large organizations like school districts – an opportunity to apply market pressure towards more fair copyright practices. As a librarian involved in coordinating purchase of information resources, I can see this being high on the list of desirable (or even required) criteria for purchase.
  • This more inclusive approach would broaden the commons, and help to bridge what I see as an “us versus them” divide. My understanding is that the experiences with free / open source software and creative commons to date have shown that people tend to start with more restrictive licensing, then move to less restrictive licensing over time. It would be psychologically a smaller leap, as a reader, listener, etc., to move from cc-fair copyright to cc-sharealike than to move from outside to inside the commons.

Weakness: proponents of a strong commons may not like this idea.

Creative Commons – free to read / all rights reserved
This is very similar to CC-fair copyright, except that the work is free to read online. With robust fair use / fair dealing, of course such uses as downloading, format-shifting, etc., for personal research and that sort of thing would be included.
Rationale: The “all rights reserved” is meant to address one suggestion that has come up in the CC Version 4.0 discussion, of dividing noncommercial into a two licenses, one with stronger and one with weaker restrictions. This would be the strong version. Sharelike might be an option with this license.

Creative Commons Noncommercial – suggested wording change
The current wording under Section 4 b – restrictions reads:

You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation. The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in connection with the exchange of copyrighted works.

 Suggested change to:

You may not sell the content of the work for private gain. For the avoidance of doubt, educational use is not considered commercial for the purposes of this license, and is therefore permitted. Including the work in a package designed for sales to educational institutions for the purpose of private gain is commercial use and is prohibited. Providing services that facilitate uses of the work included in this license, such as copying services, are permitted provided that any fees charged are for the copying service alone and not for content provision. 

 Question about advertising: 

Would it make sense to include: use of the work or parts thereof in advertising products or services sold primarily for public gain is considered a commercial use, and hence prohibited. The reason for why question is, I wonder if advertising conducted in such a way as to imply that the creator endorsed a product is a violation of creators’ moral rights which should be reflected in all CC licenses (for those jurisdictions where this is not already covered by copyright law, and to educate those who use CC-licensed work).

Rationale: I think that this may be close to what most ordinary creators mean by noncommercial, that is, don’t sell my work or create a new version and sell that. It’s pretty close to why I use noncommercial. Clarifying that educational uses are allowed would be a huge benefit to everyone, everywhere. Knowledge benefits us all!

Creative Commons – public domain suggestion
Based on a recent commons on the cc-licenses list that public domain is problematic, I wonder if it makes sense to redefine public as CC-Sharealike? Ideally, this should be perpetual, or at least give the creator an opportunity to say that they think this license should be perpetual.

My four bits for today, for what they are worth! Many thanks to Creative Commons and all of the cc-licenses and cc-community participants who have helped to shape my thinking about these matters. Apologies for any conceptual errors, real or imagined. This post is part of the Articulating the Commons series

Videos from BiomedCentral: IainH and Gulliver Turtle (Panton #4 and #5) and thanks to Musopen

I have spent the last days on and off editing the material that Laura Newman (OKFN) and I collected from BiomedCentral – interviewing Iain Hrynaszkiewicz and also Gulliver Turtle. Iain has got the (slightly edited) video/audio and hoped to let me have comments shortly, when I can release a final edited version.

Before I talk about the details I want to say how much I appreciate what BiomedCentral has done for the processing of publishing science Openly. They have been going a bit over 10 years and when they started their business model was unproven. I have paid tribute to this in last year. I have also commended their initiatives in going beyond the mainstream. While most publisher “open access” (such as it is) has to be dragged year-by-year from apparently resistant publishers BMC has gone out in front and want to show what we should be doing. So there is a lot of this in Iain’s interview.

Editing videos is hard work and I would be grateful for advice from people who’ve done it. It depends critically on the material and Iain was a superb interviewee. He knew what the questions would be and had prepared thoroughly, so when we interviewed him the replies were fluent, without hesitation, deviation or repetition. There are about 20 questions and answers – here is a typical one –

and the whole interview lasts about 28 minutes. So I am planning to create:

  • A complete edited movie of 29 minutes
  • 20 snippets (Q + A), each in its own movie (1-2 mins each)

Each Q+A has the interviewer (mainly Laura) in the semi-background, but quite audible and then Iain’s response. The audio seems very clear – it was an empty room with a lapel mike for Iain and a camera mike for the interviewer.

Q: should I create 20 snippets or try to bundle them into larger themes?

Q: where should I post them (currently I will use VIMEO with a CC-BY licence)?

I also wish to get a transcript of the session (this is very important for indexing by search engines). Last time we asked for OKF volunteers and it took ages. I am considering Mechanical Turk which will costs about 1 USD/min of video, so ca 30 USD. There’s a good tutorial on this ( ) so it seems to be very cost-effective and I am expect of high quality (given the simplicity of the task and the clarity of the material).

Meanwhile I have also created the final version of Gulliver Turtle’s interview (

I wanted to add music to the slideshow so that it added to the atmosphere, and @davemurrayrust offered his CC-BY material ( However it was too good in that the reader/listener spent more attention on the music than the text. So I started looking for CC-BY or CC-PD music and was pointed to a wonderful site ( This has many hundred public domain recordings (sic, CC-PD) mainly from “the classics”. So it was question of selecting something that added to the video.

I couldn’t find Carnival of the Animals so first tried Schumann’s kinderszenen – but we all agreed it was too sentimental. So the animals now have Bach’s Anna Magdalena in the background (far better than I can play it!). It’s fairly easy to add music – you have to trim it to the right length. It’s repeated three times to fit and has a fade at the end. I’d value comments, but I am thinking of using it as the basic AnimalGarden background for any generally “happy” photocomic.

So then I resurrected the slideshow that I had given at the Serpentine Gallery and added music to it. This was harder, as the themes were Innocence, Greed and Treachery, and Hope. Still choosing from Musopen (and again many thanks) I chose Anna Magdalena, Winter (4 Seasons) and Brandenburg 6-1. Certianly I am really happy to have found a PD site that gives me so much choice.

(There will be no music for IainH’s interview)

Open access to save costs for teaching and learning

Did you know that the cost to put an electronic copy of a single article on reserve for just two semesters can cost more than it would have cost to pay a professional publisher to make the article fully open access in the first place?

Over at the Copyright Clearance Center, I just looked up the cost for an article published in a Sage journal for reuse in a coursepack / library reserve for 300 students over 2 semesters as an institutional non-subscriber. The cost was $1,638 U.S. As the Copyright Clearance Center site points out, this is just re-use rights; this does not get me the actual article. Re-use for institutional subscribers apparently is free.

If my institution could not afford to subscribe to this journal, it would have been better to have paid for the article to be published as open access at PLoS ONE at $1,350 U.S. – even if the authors had nothing at all to do with the institution. Over 2 semesters, the  savings would have been $288. If we needed the article for a second year, with the current system we’d need to pay Sage yet again through the Copyright Clearance Centre – if we had paid for OA through PLoS ONE instead, our total savings would now start to accumulate at $1,638 for every year the article is needed.

The article in question:
Information Seeking Related to Clinical Trial Enrollment.  Z. Janet Yang, Katherine A. McComas, Geri Gay, John P. Leonard, Andrew J. Dannenberg, Hildy Dillon. Communication Research. December 2011.

Suggestion for a research project: look up authors of articles in this situation, and survey or interview them to find out whether they had any idea their work would be sold in this manner.

Is the OJS simple statement of open access the best approach, or should we do away with academic copyright altogether?

Two more thoughts on scholarly communication, copyright and creative commons:

Is the Open Journal Systems default open access policy statement all that is needed for an open access journal? Following is the statement, copied from the SFU Communications Grad Students Journal, Stream. With a statement like this, is any kind of Creative Commons licensing really necessary? Perhaps it is the majority of journals in the DOAJ that do not use CC licensing at all who have this right.

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

Glyn Moody on Techdirt asks the question, Do we really need copyright for academic publishing?  Copyright does not protect the kinds of things that really are important to academics, such as getting credit for ideas, but rather things that don’t matter all that much to most of us, such as precisely how the ideas are expressed. This is a good question! If a researcher solves an important problem, such as finding a cure for a particular kind of cancer, what do they want – recognition, promotion, a Nobel prize – or a legal right to sue anyone who copies the precise wording used in the article describing the research that led to these results?

Just two more thoughts towards Articulating the Commons.

Why require attribution? A Creative Commons license discussion item

When you choose a Creative Commons license, attribution is a given. Why?

One might argue that the notion of the individual author or creator is an invention of the Enlightenment, and one that may be beginning to fall by the wayside as the potential of the web for social creativity is starting to emerge. For example, Wikipedia uses the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license. How does this make sense for a collaboratively produced encyclopedia where individual articles are not signed by authors?

Sometimes we want attribution; other times, however, attribution would slow down the spread of great ideas. The “Occupy” movement advanced so rapidly precisely through such sharing, and the Occupy leaderful approach would not fit well at all with a focus on individual attribution.

In my own area of scholarly communication, attribution through citing is a long-standing tradition, one that makes sense as citations are important to the career as a scholar, and (more importantly) citations are necessary so that the reader can review the cited sources. However, these practices have been in place for centuries without need of legal licensing, so why would this be required through a license now?

In order to have a way of checking for further permissions, a means of contacting the licensor is necessary. This is not the same as attribution.

Noncommercial means noncommercial (creative commons discussion)

To state the obvious, noncommercial means noncommercial. When people choose a noncommercial creative commons license, that’s all that this tells us. It is important to understand that “noncommercial” does not necessarily mean reserving commercial rights for oneself (or one’s organization). For example, a number of open access scholarly journals require authors to use a creative commons license, often one which stipulates noncommercial. It is the journal or the publisher who requires the license,  but it is the authors who retain commercial rights, as I have written about in more detail here.

Another interpretation of “noncommercial” is a statement that the creator does not consider the work to belong to the domain of what can be considered commercial. My understanding is that noncommercial is the most popular element in the Creative Commons suite. Perhaps this is one way for many people to say collectively that we would like to see the sphere of what cannot be considered commercial grow.

Following is one example of how I think “noncommercial”, while seemingly a restriction, if broadly used has the power to grow the commons. 

If medical funders were to require that the published results of the work that they fund be made available for re-use in derivatives works, for example through the CC Attribution-only, Attribution-Sharealike, or Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike license, then derivative works could be made from large sets of medical research articles. Examples of derivatives could include value-added products designed to facilitate further research, or point-of-care tools for physicians. The problem with Attribution-only in this situation is that the value-added tools could be sold in locked-down, commercial versions. The authors, medical research funders, and those for whom the research is funded, for example the tax-paying public, might not be able to afford to purchase the value-added versions. For example, if a medical research funding organization funded research in the developing world, with CC-BY value-added tools could be created that would for practical reasons be exclusively available to the wealthy in the developed world. The sharealike provision would make sure that such products were available to all. However, if all, or a substantial portion, of these research results were available only on a noncommercial basis, this would mean that developing value-added tools would have to be done on a noncommercial basis. This step would tend to help to bring medicine from the sphere of private gain into the realm of the public good. I would argue that the society of the commons of the future that is worth striving for features a strong public health care system, and that “noncommercial” results of scholarly research therefore help to build a stronger commons.  Added Dec. 26: Casey Bergman’s explanation of why he left Faculty 1000 is an illustration of this issue – a toll access service built on top of open access journals.

This is a part of what I tend to mean when I use the term noncommercial, or by using the “not for sale” picture that I generally use as my Facebook picture. It would be more accurate to say that what I usually mean by noncommercial is something like “this work is not for the commercial sphere, but in the event that I need money, I wish to reserve commercial rights for myself”. That is the reason why The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics is licensed as noncommercial.

Research would be needed to understand what exactly people think that a commons is, might or should be. This is not as simple as conducting a survey, from my perspective, because first of all we need to think this through.  That’s why I recommend Articulating the Commons.

Journals with good creative commons models

As reported by Suber & Sutton in the December 2011 SPARC Open Access Newsletter, only a small minority (15%) of society-owned fully open access journals use Creative Commons licenses, and as Shieber found in 2009, of all the journals listed in DOAJ, only 24% use CC licensing. To encourage more journals to use CC licenses, this post presents 4 journals or publishers, some from the scholarly society community and others from the commercial community, with what I consider to be good Creative Commons models. Note that I am not covering the CC Attribution only license (CC-BY), as I assume that this license is commonly understood to represent good practice for open access. In brief, in all cases the Creative Commons license is that of the author, not the journal or publisher. Cellular Therapy and Transplantation allows authors the full range of CC license choices; this model, from my perspective, is the best fit with my vision of Articulating the Commons. Co-Action Publishing and Bone & Joint Research both insist on libre open access with a CC Attribution-Noncommercial (CC-BY-NC) license which allows for re-use; both have interesting indications or clarifications on their website telling us a bit about what is meant by reserving commercial rights. Nature’s Scientific Reports offers authors two choices of license, CC-BY-NC-ND (noderivatives) or CC-BY-NC-SA (sharealike), and shows responsibility by committing to donate to Creative Commons at a rate of $20 per article.


Cellular Therapy and Transplantation: author choice
Thanks to Claudia Klotzenburg of Cellular Therapy and Transplantation for pointing to CTT’s policies on the open science list. CTT practices what I consider to be the optimal policy for an open access journal for CC licensing, requiring authors to use a CC license, but leaving copyright with the authors and allowing the author to select the CC license of their choice from among the full set of CC license options.  This is a policy that fits best with my vision of a project of involving as many of us around the planet, for years to come, in a conversation on Articulating the Commons.

The CTT Copyright Notice says (from the CTT Author Guidelines page) says:

E. Copyright Notice for Authors and Sponsors

With CTT, Authors retain the copyright of their contributions. This means that Author(s) are free to decide what they wish to do with their contribution. CTT Authors choose a Creative Commons Licence for their contribution so that every reader can see what rights are going along with this specific article. 

If an article is published in CTT, the Authors of an article have granted CTT the right to publish it. By agreeing to have the final version published, Authors declare that, in their contribution, rights of third parties have not been infringed on anywhere in the document, including tables and graphics. If Authors wish to republish the article, they are kindly asked to mention CTT as the place of first publication. 

Sponsors who wish to solve copyright issues concerning a CTT article: please talk to the Authors since it is them who are the copyright holders of their contributions.
Co-Action Publishing: noncommercial libre open access, author retains copyright

Integrity: Under a Creative Commons license authors retain the full non-commercial copyright on their work, allowing you control over how you wish to you use the work in the future.

This model leaves copyright with the author, but does not provide the full range of CC license options. The Co-Action commercial page gives us some clues as to why Co-Action would want to restrict commercial rights. One of Co-Action’s services to publishing partners is providing print copies of journals. Another is selling advertising, both online and in print. If Co-Action were to use the CC Attribution online license (CC-BY), this would mean that another company could offer exactly the same services with the material Co-Action has worked on – without having to contribute a penny to the actual work of producing the journal. This is a good model reflecting libre open access (re-use allowed), while restricting rights that are likely necessary to sustain the publisher. A healthy open access scholarly communication system for the future needs open access publishers like Co-Action!
One suggestion for improvement: Co-Action could make it a little bit clearer as to which rights are being retained through the use of noncommercial. Here is where a statement along the lines of Education is a public good, not a commercial activity would be helpful. Or a statement along these lines: these materials are free for you to read, download, and print; however you may not sell print or other value-added copies of the journal or sell advertising on a copy of the journal that you create. For these rights, please contact Co-Action Publishing and/or the author of a specific article. 

Bone & Joint Research: libre open access, noncommercial, good definition of noncommercial

Authors retain the copyright of their material when publishing in Bone & Joint Research. If the paper is accepted for publication the content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License. This permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is noncommercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. The licence can be found at

Definition of noncommercial: You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation. The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in connection with the exchange of copyrighted works.

Nature Publishing Group Scientific Reports: noncommercial, author choice, and support for Creative Commons
Nature Publishing Group offers authors two options for CC licenses: CC-Attribution-Noncommerical-Noderivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) and CC-Attribution-Noncommerical-Sharealike (CC-BY-NC-SA). In either case, it is clear that the CC license is the author’s, not Nature’s; in other words, Nature Publishing Group is not retaining any commercial rights to articles in this journal, but rather vesting them in the author. From my perspective, this is wise as it provides some important protection for the journal (no competitor can take the contents wholesale and use them for commercial purposes that could compete with Nature), while keeping limitations on rights to a minimum. Giving authors two choices is a better fit with my vision of articulating the commons discussed above, albeit less of a full invitation to participate than offering the full range of options. While allowing for the creation of derivatives offers some clear benefits to scholarship, from my perspective no one at present has completely thought out whether or not the benefits outweigh potential disadvantages of allowing derivatives, such as misunderstandings that could come from poor translations. Providing the option allows for a natural type of experiment, in that over time we will see which option is preferred by authors. Nature is unique in this group for offering financial support to Creative Commons, at $20 per license used. From my perspective, this is very responsible on the part of Nature, and does not appear to come with any expectations of control over Creative Commons (which would be a matter of concern), but rather is a straightforward donation.

Who retains copyright of the openaccess articles?
Content that an author has decided to make open access can be licensed under one of two Creative Commons licenses. The author can choose to opt for the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivs 3.0 Unported License. The author will thereby permit dissemination and reuse of the article, and so will enable the sharing and reuse of scientific material. It does not, however, permit commercial exploitation or the creation of derivative works without specific permission. To view a copy of this license visit

The other choice is the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License, which allows readers to alter, transform, or build upon the article and then distribute the resulting work under the same or similar license to this one. The work must be attributed back to the original author and commercial use is not permitted. To view a copy of this license visit
Why does NPG give money to Creative Commons and can I decide not to give a donation?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. To support their efforts, and hence the open access community, Nature Publishing Group will make a donation to Creative Commons. This is not a portion of an individual APC, rather the donation is proportional to the total number of research papers published using the creative commons licences.

This post is a part of the Articulating the Commons and Transitioning to Open Access series, and is intended to inform the Creative Commons Version 4.0 discussion.

Three pictures, one small gift to everyone, with love

This holiday season dedicated to peace and joy, I wish to share with everyone around the world one very small gift, of three of my prettiest pictures, dedicated to everyone with love, under the public domain. There are strings attached, but these are the bonds of love, the glue that binds together families and communities, not the bonds of law.

This is my first attempt to use a Creative Commons public domain license, something that I asked for from Creative Commons Canada many years ago. Note that while this one post on IJPE is licensed under the CC public domain license, the overall blog license is CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike.

Even when I desire to waive my rights under copyright laws, it is not easy! This set of photos began as a flickr set however in flickr the photos are licensed as Creative Commons – Attribution – Sharealike, because public domain is not an option, and I prefer CC-BY-SA over CC-BY.

Creative Commons Canada does give me the tools to create a public domain license, and Google’s blogger has the flexibility so that I can add license to this particular post. However, I had to do some manipulating of the CC Canada public domain text as the default copy-and-paste resulted in a warning! html broken message, and some rather funny-looking text on my blog. This is cleaned up now, but perhaps only to an extent.

Also the Creative Commons Canada Public Domain license did not give me a chance to add a “more permissions” URL, which is a little bit less than optimal,  because I wrote the post to everyone, with love especially for this purpose.

This small critique is also intended with love, in the hopes of helping those who are helping us to build the commons through such means as Creative Commons licensing, and free tools for all to use (thanks, google and flickr).

Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful holiday season and great New Year. One of the 7 billion humans on this planet at this time, Heather Morrison

This post is written as part of a small project I am working on at the moment, Articulating the Commons. All are welcome to join in this project, over the next many, many years.


To the extent possible under law, Heather Morrison has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this one blogpost, Three pictures, one small gift, noting that the overall creative commons license for The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics remain Creative Commons – Attribution – Noncommercial – Sharealike,  This work is published from:
Three Pictures One Small Gift.  Public domain, Creative Commons Canada.

To everyone, with love

This work is hereby dedicated to the public domain, with love. You are free to reuse the work as you will. Attribution, link-backs and thank yous are all appreciated, but not legally required. You are bound, not by law by the ties of love and the sense of ethics, fairness, moral or spiritual duty that bind us all to use this work with love, respect and care for all of humankind and all of the living creature that are part of the world that we all share.

This post is intended to create a more permissions URL to use with Creative Commons licenses. It is a part of a small project that I am working on which I call Articulating the Commons. Everyone – the whole world – is invited to join me in this project, over the next many, many years.

Integrating Institutional and Funder Open Access Mandates: Belgian Model

On Fri, Dec 23, 2011 Professor Bernard Rentier — Rector of the Université de Liège, Vice-President of the FRS-FNRS and Chairman of Enabling Open Scholarship (EOS)announced on the Global Open Access List (GOAL):

“It is my pleasure to announce that the Board of Administrators of the FRS-FNRS (Fund for Scientific Research in French-speaking Belgium) has officially decided to use exclusively Institutional Repositories as sources of bibliographic data in support of grant or fellowship submission (except for foreign applicants) starting in 2013 (strongly encouraged in 2012). (FRS-FNRS is by far the main funder for basic research in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.) “

I am sure that many readers will not quite realize the significance of this development in Belgium, so I would like to spell it out:

This represents the first instance of extending one of the key features of Professor Rentier’s “Liege model” research institution repository deposit (ID/OA) mandate to a research funder.

The Liege model institutional mandate is

(i) to require deposit

and, in order to ensure compliance,

(ii) to designate institutional repository deposit as the sole mechanism for submitting publications for institutional performance review.

The FRS-FNRS is the research funding council for French-speaking Belgium. Its Flemish-speaking counterpart, FWO, mandated OA deposit in 2007, but, like most funder mandates, FWO did not specify where to deposit, and did not provide any system for monitoring and ensuring compliance:

FRS-FNRS has has now designated institutional repository deposit as the sole mechanism for submitting publications in support of a research funding application.

This one stipulation has six major knock-on benefits: It not only:

(1) extends the Liege institutional mandate’s compliance/monitoring clause to funder mandates,

but it also

(2) helps integrate institutional and funder mandates,

(3) ensuring that deposit is made,

(4) ensuring that deposit is made in the author’s institutional repository (rather than in diverse institution-external repositories),

(5) encouraging institutions that have not yet done so to adopt deposit mandates, so as to complement funder mandates for all institutional research output, funded and unfunded, and

(6) ensuring that institutional and funder mandates are convergent and mutually reinforcing rather than divergent and competitive, with deposits for both mandates being made institutionally, and with institutions hence monitoring and ensuring compliance with funder mandates.

Bravo FRS-FNRS! Let us hope other research funders world-wde will adopt (or upgrade to) the Belgian model.

How to Integrate University and Funder Open Access Mandates

Optimize the NIH Mandate Now: Deposit Institutionally, Harvest Centrally

Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How?

Which Green OA Mandate Is Optimal?

Stevan Harnad

Worth a thousand words: ¡Felices Fiestas! from Mexico’s deepest lake

Image showing Lake Alchichica's Stromatolites

Happy holidays from Lake Alchichica!

In addition to holding the title for deepest natural lake in Mexico, Lake Alchichica can also claim some other unique titles. It’s the largest of the lakes in Mexico’s crater-made Oriental Basin , for example, and also boasts the extremely high pH of 8.7-10.0.

The lake also has a remarkable amount of stromatolites, which are kind of stalagmites except they are made by microorganisms and they look like they are from another planet.

The authors of “Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Community Structure in Field and Cultured Microbialites from the Alkaline Lake Alchichica (Mexico) ” investigated these stromatolites, looking specifically at why they tend to crop up in highly alkaline environments.

Also, please permit me a moment of holiday spirit here: doesn’t the schematic sort of look like half of an outer-space Christmas tree?

Here is what they found:


The geomicrobiology of crater lake microbialites remains largely unknown despite their evolutionary interest due to their resemblance to some Archaean analogs in the dominance of in situ carbonate precipitation over accretion. Here, we studied the diversity of archaea, bacteria and protists in microbialites of the alkaline Lake Alchichica from both field samples collected along a depth gradient (0–14 m depth) and long-term-maintained laboratory aquaria. Using small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene libraries and fingerprinting methods, we detected a wide diversity of bacteria and protists contrasting with a minor fraction of archaea. Oxygenic photosynthesizers were dominated by cyanobacteria, green algae and diatoms.

Cyanobacterial diversity varied with depth, Oscillatoriales dominating shallow and intermediate microbialites and Pleurocapsales the deepest samples. The early-branching Gloeobacterales represented significant proportions in aquaria microbialites. Anoxygenic photosynthesizers were also diverse, comprising members of Alphaproteobacteria and Chloroflexi. Although photosynthetic microorganisms dominated in biomass, heterotrophic lineages were more diverse. We detected members of up to 21 bacterial phyla or candidate divisions, including lineages possibly involved in microbialite formation, such as sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacteria but also Firmicutes and very diverse taxa likely able to degrade complex polymeric substances, such as Planctomycetales, Bacteroidetes and Verrucomicrobia.

Heterotrophic eukaryotes were dominated by Fungi (including members of the basal Rozellida or Cryptomycota), Choanoflagellida, Nucleariida, Amoebozoa, Alveolata and Stramenopiles. The diversity and relative abundance of many eukaryotic lineages suggest an unforeseen role for protists in microbialite ecology. Many lineages from lake microbialites were successfully maintained in aquaria. Interestingly, the diversity detected in aquarium microbialites was higher than in field samples, possibly due to more stable and favorable laboratory conditions. The maintenance of highly diverse natural microbialites in laboratory aquaria holds promise to study the role of different metabolisms in the formation of these structures under controlled conditions.

Scholarly communication for the 1%

Outsell just published a report about how much they figure the STM industry is making off the backs of academia, but at U.S. $1,295 for a 22-page report, I can’t afford to read it! This is definitely scholarly communication for the 1%.

Any scholarly publisher that is making money from the works of academics, from my perspective, has an obligation to make their financial information freely available to all.


Creative Commons, noncommercial and formats

Following is a contribution of mine to the Creative Commons 4.0 discussion.  For more of the discussion, see the cc-licenses list.

Maciej Pendolski’s point about differing rights depending on the format is an important one. This is not simply a matter of physical formats, but could also have applications in the digital world.

For example, the Journal of Medical Internet Research has a model where the html copy is free, but there is a charge to download the PDF.

Flatworldknowledge has an innovative approach to textbooks. All books can be read free online, while specific formats are available for purchase. This includes print (in either black and white or colour), audiobooks, PDF to print it yourself, or ebooks (for ebook readers – the web-based version is free). Details at:

There are likely many permutations of what types of formats might be available for free and which ones the creators wish to reserve rights for, and this is likely to continue to evolve over the next few years.  For this reason, I think that it may not be possible to write this into a standard license.

This, to me, is another good reason to provide a larger text box for “more permissions”, so that people can write what they mean by using a particular license. Perhaps CC could provide a link to some sample language for common types of extra permissions language that people might wish to include?

Another thought is that as the commons evolves, our thoughts about what can be permitted may well evolve, too. What I am hearing is that there is a tendency for people to start out granting more limited rights, then move to greater permissions over time. For this reason, I think it would be optimal to provide a means for people to revisit or update their licenses. I don’t know what is involved technically, so thoughts on this are appreciated.


Heather Morrison, MLIS
Doctoral Candidate, Simon Fraser University School of Communication
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics