Berlin 10 Open Access Conference Draft programme now available

We are pleased to announce that the draft programme for the Berlin 10 Open Access Conference is now available. To view the programme, click here.


This Conference wishes to bring together internationally recognised speakers and Open Access experts from all disciplines. Some of the key speakers to present include:


– Dr Horst Freitag (Ambassador, German Embassy, South Africa)
– Prof Russel Botman (Rector & Vice-Chancellor, Stellenbosch University, South Africa)

– Mr Derek Hanekom (Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, South African Government, South Africa)

– Ms Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, European Commission, Belgium)

– Dr Cameron Neylon (Advocacy Director, Public Library of Science (PLoS), United Kingdom)
– Prof Bernard Schutz (Director, Albert Einstein Institute, Max Planck Society, Germany)

– Mr Cyril Muller (Vice President, External Affairs, The World Bank, United States of America)

– South African representative from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project

And many more!

The theme of this Conference, ‘Networked scholarship in a networked world: Participation in Open Access’, addresses access to scientific knowledge for countries worldwide. The Conference offers a unique opportunity for African institutions and organisations to fully engage in discussions about improved publication models and the use of network infrastructure to promote science. For more information about the themes, click here.
To register for the Conference and Pre-conference Workshops, please visit: 

Please note that space is limited. Early Bird registration closes on the 15th of September 2012, and General Registration on the 24th of October 2012.


For registration enquiries, please contact: 

Ellen Claasen


All other enquiries can be directed to:

Ina Smith


For more information, please visit:

Let’s get rid of CC-NC and CC-ND NOW! It really matters

Many people now feel that the CC-NC and CC-ND licences are counterproductive – I estimate that in “Open Access” alone this is costing >> 1 billion USD in forbidding re-use and general paralysing FUD. Here’s a great exposition of why we must reform CC licences NOW!

Note that in science there is additional argument and evidence ( ) and  Prof. Mike Carroll PLoS Biology, *Why Full Open Access Matters*, at



Here’s Danny’s arguments – if you haven’t time just be convinced that CC-NC doesn’t work, stops the honest people working with material intended for them , is ambiguous, etc.


Danny Piccirillo


to Open



———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Students for Free Culture <>
Date: Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 3:15 AM
Subject: [FC-discuss] Stop the inclusion of proprietary licenses in Creative Commons 4.0

Over the past several years, Creative Commons has increasingly
recommended free culture licenses over non-free ones. Now that the
drafting process for version 4.0 of their license set is in full gear,
this is a “[a once-in-a-decade-or-more opportunity][1]” to deprecate the
proprietary NonCommercial and NoDerivatives clauses. This is the best
chance we have to dramatically shift the direction of Creative Commons
to be fully aligned with the [definition of free cultural works][2] by
preventing the inheritance of these proprietary clauses in CC 4.0?s
final release.

The concept of free culture has its roots in the history of free
software (popularly marketed as “open source software”), and it’s an
important philosophical underpinning to the CC license set. As with free
software, the word “free” in free culture means free as in freedom, not
as in price, but Creative Commons has not [set or adhered to any
standard or promise of rights][3] or taken [any ethical position][4] in
their support of a free culture. The definition of free cultural works
describes the necessary freedoms to ensure that media monopolies cannot
form to restrict the creative and expressive freedoms of others and
outlines [which restrictions are permissible or not][5]. Although
Creative Commons provides non-free licenses, the fact that they
recognize the definition reveals a willingness and even desire to

Creative Commons started off by focusing much more on flexibility for
rightsholders, but since its early days, the organization has moved away
from that position. Several projects and licenses have been retired such
as the Sampling, Founders’ Copyright, and Developing Nations License.
It’s obvious that something like Founders’ Copyright which keeps “all
rights reserved” for 14 years (before releasing into the public domain)
is not promoting free culture. Giving rightsholders more options and
easier ways to choose what rights they want to give others actually
reinforces permission culture, creates a fragmented commons, and takes
away freedom from all cultural participants.

**What’s wrong with NC and ND?**

The two proprietary clauses remaining in the CC license set are
[NonCommercial][6] (NC) and [NoDerivatives][7] (ND), and it is time
Creative Commons stopped supporting them, too. Neither of them provide
better protection against misappropriation than free culture licenses.
The ND clause survives on the idea that rightsholders would not
otherwise be able protect their reputation or preserve the integrity of
their work, but all these [fears about allowing derivatives][8] are
either permitted by fair use anyway or already protected by free
licenses. The [NC clause is vague][9] and survives entirely on two even
more misinformed ideas. First is rightsholders’ fear of giving up their
copy monopolies on commercial use, but what would be considered
commercial use is necessarily ambiguous. Is distributing the file on a
website which profits from ads a commercial use? [Where is the line
drawn][10] between commercial and non-commercial use? In the end, it
really isn’t. It does not increase the potential profit from work and it
does not provide any better protection than than Copyleft does (using
the ShareAlike clause on its own, which is a free culture license).

The second idea is the misconception that NC is anti-property or anti-
privatization. This comes from the name NonCommercial which implies a
Good Thing (non-profit), but it’s function is counter-intuitive and
completely antithetical to free culture (it [retains a commercial
monopoly][11] on the work). That is what it comes down to. The NC clause
is actually the closest to traditional “all rights reserved” copyright
because it treats creative and intellectual expressions as private
property. Maintaining commercial monopolies on cultural works only
enables middlemen to continue enforcing outdated business models and the
restrictions they depend on. We can only evolve beyond that if we
abandon commercial monopolies, eliminating the possibility of middlemen
amassing control over vast pools of our culture.

Most importantly, though, is that both clauses do not actually
contribute to a shared commons. They oppose it. The fact that the ND
clause [prevents cultural participants from building upon works][12]
should be a clear reason to eliminate it from the Creative Commons
license set. The ND clause is already the least popular, and
discouraging remixing is obviously contrary to a free culture. The
NonCommercial clause, on the other hand, is even more problematic
because it is not so obvious in its proprietary nature. While it has
always been a popular clause, it’s use has been in slow and steady

Practically, the NC clause only functions to cause problems for
collaborative and remixed projects. It prevents them from being able to
fund themselves and locks them into a proprietary license forever. For
example, if Wikipedia were under a NC license, it would be [impossible
to sell printed or CD copies of Wikipedia][13] and reach communities
without internet access because every single editor of Wikipedia would
need to give permission for their work to be sold. The project would
need to survive off of donations (which Wikipedia has proven possible),
but this is much more difficult and completely unreasonable for almost
all projects, especially for physical copies. Retaining support for NC
and ND in CC 4.0 would give them much more weight, making it extremely
difficult to retire them later, and continue to feed the fears that
nurture a permission culture.****

**Why does this need to happen now?**

People have been vocal about this issue for a long time, and awareness
of the problematic nature of ND and NC has been spreading, especially in
the areas of [Open Educational Resources][14] (such as OpenCourseWare)
and [Open Access to research][15]. With the percentage of CC-licensed
works that permit remixing and commercial use having [doubled][16] since
Creative Commons’ first year, it’s clear that there is a growing
recognition that the non-free license clauses are not actually
necessary, or even good.

Both NC and ND are incompatible with free licenses and many, if not the
vast majority, of NC and ND licensed works will not be relicensed after
CC 4.0, so the longer it takes to phase out those clauses, the more
works will be locked into a proprietary license. There will never be a
better time than this. Creative Commons has been shifting away from non-
free licenses for several years, but if it does not abandon them
entirely it will fail as a commons and [divide our culture][17] into
disconnected parts, each with its own distinct licence, rights and
permissions granted by the copyright holders who ‘own’ the works.

In December of 2006, Creative Commons implemented a subtle difference
between the pages for free culture and non-free licenses: green and
yellow background graphics (compare [Attribution-ShareAlike][18] to
[Attribution-NonCommercial][19]). This was also when they began using
license buttons that include license property icons, so that there would
be an immediate visual cue as to the specific license being used before
clicking through to the deed. In February of 2008, they began using a
seal on free culture licenses that said “[Approved for Free Cultural
Works][20]“, which was another great step in the right direction. In
July of this year, Creative Commons released a [completely redesigned
license chooser][21] that explicitly says whether the configuration
being used is free culture or not. This growing acknowledgement of free
vs. non-free licenses was a crucial development, since being under a
Creative Commons license is so often equated with being a free cultural
work. Now, retiring the NC and ND clauses is a critical step in Creative
Commons’ progress towards taking a pro-freedom approach.

The NC and ND clauses not only depend on, but also feed misguided
notions about their purpose and function. With that knowledge, it would
be a mistake not to retire them. Creative Commons should not depend on
and nurture rightsholders’ fears of misappropriation to entice them into
choosing non-free CC licenses. Instead of wasting effort maintaining and
explaining a wider set of conflicting licenses, Creative Commons as an
organization should focus on providing better and more consistent
support for the licenses that really make sense. We are in the perfect
position to finally create a unified and undivided commons. Creative
Commons is at a crossroads.This decisive moment will in all likelihood
bind their direction either being stuck serving the fears that validate
permission culture or creating a shared commons between all cultural

We don’t want the next generation of the free culture movement to be
saddled with the dichotomies of the past; we want our efforts to be
spent fighting the next battles.****

**What should we do? **

There have been lots of discussions on the CC-license list about
promoting free culture licenses and discouraging proprietary ones. A
couple of proposals have been made to encourage the use of free licenses
over the non-free ones.

One is a rebranding of the non-free licenses. They could be
differentiated in a much more significant way than it currently is, such
as referring to NC and ND as the “Restricted Commons” or “Limited
Commons” or some variant thereof. License buttons could also be color
coded in the same way that license pages are (green for free culture
licenses, yellow for proprietary ones). Another proposal is to rename
NonCommercial to something more honest such as CommercialMonopoly.

While these proposals and other ideas are certainly worth supporting, we
should not lose sight on our ultimate goal: for Creative Commons to stop
supporting non-free licenses. We should not feel like this is impossible
to achieve at this point, as it will be much more difficult to do later.
More people than ever are starting to advocate against proprietary CC
licenses, and there is clear evidence and reasoning behind these
arguments. We have the power to prevent the inclusion of non-free
clauses in this upcoming version of the Creative Commons License set.

To join us in resisting the inclusion of proprietary clauses in CC 4.0,
there are a few important things you can do:

  * Send a letter to the [Creative Commons Board of Directors][22] about
your concerns.

  * Publish your letter or a blog post on the issue (and send it to the
list below)

  * Join the Creative Commons licenses development list to participate
in discussions of the 4.0 draft:

  * Contribute to the CC 4.0 wiki pages:

























Discuss mailing list


okfn-discuss mailing list

Save the date! October 22nd SPARC and the World Bank Announce Open Access Week 2012 Kickoff Webcast

Save the date: October 22, 2012 in Washington, DC and Online

Washington, DC – SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and the World Bank have announced they will co-sponsor the kickoff event for Open Access Week 2012 on Monday October 22nd in Washington, DC. The live event will take place at the state of the art World Bank facilities and will host a Liveblog and Webcast via for those who cannot attend in person. The event will also be recorded, and be available to the community for use during and after local Open Access events.

The co-sponsored event will begin at 4:00 p.m. and consist of a 90-minute panel discussion with Open Access experts from a variety of stakeholder groups – including students, researchers, and policy makers – as well as representatives from the World Bank and SPARC. As this year’s Open Access theme is “Set the Default to Open Access,” the panelists will touch upon what that means to them, their institutions, and their work. Speakers will be announced in early September.

Immediately following the question and answer session, SPARC will sponsor a reception for those attending and participating in the panel discussion.

The World Bank was recently named as SPARC Innovator for its implementation of a new open access policy, which included the launch of the World Bank Open Knowledge Repository (OKR) in 2012. The World Bank opened its data to the public in 2010.

For additional details, please contact:

Andrea Higginbotham
andrea [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 x 121


Devika Levy
Dlevy [at] worldbank [dot] org

Workshop on publishing a journal using OJS (Open Journal Systems)

6 November 2012 Berlin 10 OA Pre-conference workshop: Publishing journals using OJS by Kevin Stranack (PKP), SU, UNESCO, SPARC (max. 40 delegates). More info at

Target group: Existing journal editors interested in converting their ‘traditional’ printed journal to online and/or Open Access.


For Finch/RCUK: (1) Peter Suber and (2) Swan & Houghton on Green/Gold OA Cost/Benefits and Priorities

Ensuring Open Access for Publicly Funded Research
British Medical Journal 2012

“What matters first is to use the tools we have to drive open access for the benefit of researchers and taxpayers?. To do that on a global scale, every research funding agency, public or private, and every university, should require green open access for new peer reviewed research articles by their grantees and faculty. Institutions should take that step before adding new incentives or new funding for gold. Because green and gold have complementary advantages, we eventually want both. But that means using the strengths of green, not just the strengths of gold, and the major strengths of green lie in providing a fast and inexpensive transition to free online access. To fund the transition to gold without first harnessing the power of green incurs premature expense, leaves the transition incomplete, and puts the interests of publishers ahead of the interests of research?.”

Going for Gold?

Costs and benefits of Gold Open Access for UK research institutions
Report to UK Open Access Implementation Group

“[For UK universities] during a transition period when subscriptions are maintained, the cost of adopting Green OA is much lower than the cost of Gold OA – with Green OA self-archiving costing institutions around one-fifth the amount that Gold OA might cost, and as little as one-tenth as much for the most research intensive university sampled. In a transition period, providing OA through the Green route would have substantial economic benefits for universities, unless additional funds were released for Gold OA, beyond those already available through the Research Councils and the Wellcome Trust?”

How and Why the RCUK Open Access Policy Needs to Be Revised

Keynote: Digital Research 2012
St Catherine’s College, Oxford
11 September 2012: 9:00am-10:30am

#vivo12 my talk “Reclaim Our Scholarship”

“Power corrupts; Powerpoint corrupts absolutely” (Tufte)

My talk is through HTML links – you need to be on the web.

Reclaim Our Scholarship

[was: Bottom-up collaborations in the Internet Age]

VIVO12, Miami, US

Peter Murray-Rust, Unilever Centre for Molecular Sciences Informatics, University of Cambridge


  • Restrictive practices in #scholpub are costing billions
  • The direct fruits of science are denied to 99% of the human race – everywhere. The “scholarly poor”
  • Most scientific data (80%+) is lost. Much of the rest is walled up by publishers
  • The only answer is REAL OPEN.
  • Individuals and small groups can change the world
  • VIVO could be a key point in this change

Text for today – from SciVal (Elsevier) flyer
… “[In VIVO] [Elsevier] combine rich Scopus(R) publication histories, your institution’s own content and individual researcher data in semantic form, and share this information as linked open data.”

PMR mission – to create robots to liberate all published factual scientific content. “liberation software”

Zookeys CC-NC

Questions for Mark Thorley, Convenor of RCUK Research Outputs Network

Mark Thorley, RCUK Research Outputs Network (RON):

“I am very aware of the criticisms of the policy made by Stevan Harnad and others. However, the ?corrections? he proposes would dilute our policy so that it was no longer able to deliver the level of open access which the Research Councils require. We not only want research papers to be ?free to read? but also to be ?free to exploit? ? not only for text and data mining to advance scholarship as we detail in this blog-post, but also to drive innovation in the scholarly communications market itself. And, we are very clear that those who read research papers come from a much wider base than the research community that Harnad considers will be satisfied through the use of repositories and green OA. Therefore, there are no plans to revise the RCUK policy, just to satisfy the interests of one particular sector of the OA community.”

Mark Thorley’s response is very disappointing:

MT: “the ?corrections? [Harnad] proposes would dilute our policy so that it was no longer able to deliver the level of open access which the Research Councils require.”

The proposed corrections very explicitly include a correction to “the level of open access the Research Councils require.”

To reply that this “level” is incorrigible and nonnegotiable is tantamount to saying our minds are made up, don’t trouble us with further information.

The points requiring correction are very specifically those concerning the “level of open access” (Gratis or Libre; immediate or embargoed) that is actually needed by UK researchers today, and at what price, both in terms of price paid, out of scarce research funds, and, far more important, in terms of Green OA lost, in the UK as well as in the rest of the world (to whose research, RCUK needs to remind itself, UK researchers require open access too).

These matters are not resolved by asserting that Finch/RCUK has already made up its mind a-priori about the level of OA required.

MT: “We not only want research papers to be ?free to read? but also to be ?free to exploit? ? not only for text and data mining to advance scholarship? but also to drive innovation in the scholarly communications market itself.”

All OA advocates are in favour of text-minability, innovation/exploitation potential, and as much CC-BY as each author needs and wants for their research output, over and above free online access to all research output. But the benefits from those further re-use rights over and above free online access certainly do not from providing them for some small fraction of research output. And they are certainly not worth having at the expense (in both senses) of free online access to all worldwide research output (of which the UK only produces 6%).

Yet it is precisely for the token UK 6% today that Finch/RCUK are insisting, needlessly and counterproductively, upon restricting UK researchers’ journal choice today, and redirecting scarce UK research funds to pay publishers even more, at the expense of the local UK tax-payer.

Even more important, this costly and superfluous pre-emptive re-use right for the UK fraction of worldwide research output is also purchased at the expense of global Green OA (94%), which is needed far more urgently by UK users than “exploitation rights” for UK’s 6% output:

For the RCUK/Finch policy provides a huge incentive to subscription publishers worldwide to offer paid hybrid Gold while at the same time increasing their Green embargoes to make cost-free Green an impermissible option for UK authors. This not only deprives UK authors of the cost-free Green option, but it deprives the rest of the world as well, thereby depriving UK users of open access to the rest of the world’s research output, and makes it much harder for the rest of the world to mandate Green OA.

(I don’t doubt that some of the members of the Finch committee may even have thought of this as a good thing: a way to force the rest of the world to follow the UK model, whether or not they can afford it, or wish to. But is this not something that may require some further thought?)

MT: “And, we are very clear that those who read research papers come from a much wider base than the research community that Harnad considers will be satisfied through the use of repositories and green OA. Therefore, there are no plans to revise the RCUK policy, just to satisfy the interests of one particular sector of the OA community.”

It seems to me Mark has it exactly backwards. The “wider base,” in all scientific and scholarly research fields, worldwide, wants and needs free online access, now, and urgently, to all research, in all fields (not just UK research output). It is only in a few particular subfields that there is an immediate and urgent need for further re-use rights (and even there, not just for UK’s 6% fraction of the world’s total research output).

How urgent is CC-BY and text-mining of the UK’s 6% of world research output, compared to free online access to all of the world’s research output?

And what are these urgent text-mining and other Libre OA functions? All authors need and want their work to be accessible to all its intended users, but how many authors need, want or even know about Libre OA, or CC-BY?

(Researchers are not only the producers of scholarly and scientific research, but they — not industry — are also its primary consumers, in the production of further research. Research applications are certainly crucial, but they only constitute a tiny fraction of the annual uptake of research — and many research domains have no industrial applications at all. OA was conceived as the remedy for access-denial, and the “wide base” that is the victim of access-denial is researchers themselves, hence scholarly/scientific research progress, not the R&D industry.)

And, Mark, can you elaborate rather specifically on the urgent “innovation/exploitation market potential” that will resonate with all or most researchers as a rationale for constraining their journal choice, diminishing their research funds, and possibly having to find other funds in order to publish at all, today, when they do not even have free online access to the research output of the 94% of the world not bound by the RCUK policy?

Stevan Harnad

#vivo12 What I might be going to say


I am at the #vivo12 conference in Miami – VIVO ( Connect/Share/Disover) and will give the plenary lecture tomorrow. I have been given free rein and originally called this “Bottom-up collaborations in the Internet Age” or something. I’ll review some of the things that make collaboration work and the converse (there is of course no absolute recipe for success).

I haven’t prepared anything and don’t know what I shall say. This is deliberate.

I want to get a feel for the delegates and also for the potential for future action. The delegates seem to be (roughly in order):

  • University librarians
  • University techies
  • University managers
  • Commercial vendors into universities

VIVO seems to be very University-centric. I’m going to change my title to:

“Reclaim our scholarship” – and I’ll blog more on that later.


I have requested a second screen. It will be smaller and dedicated to one task – a twitter stream or twitterwall. This is so everyone can see what others are saying about the issues I raise and also me. The tweets represent the collective electronic consciousness of the delegates AND also those “listening” from outside. It can be extremely effective. In this way we get our message out, get feedback, talk to ourselves, etc.

If you’ve never used twitter (and some delegates haven’t – no shame in that) go to and get yourself a username and password. If you don’t want to sign up to yet-another-social-networking-site there is no shame. Be aware that the whole world can read what you write. So be careful – people have been prosecuted for libel or harassment. But most people use it every day without problems. Use the string “#vivo12″ in your posts as then everyone here will get it in the stream. If you want to try, connect today and give it a try. [It also interacts with other social media such as googleplus and facebook].

The tweets (only those with #vivo12) will be exposed as they come in. This gives a way for:

  • Making comments on what I present
  • Broadcasting what I present to the outside world
  • Broadcasting your comments to the outside world
  • Getting comments from the outside world. People outside might wish to raise issues for me/us to comment on (we have 15 mins discussion).

Twitter is ephemeral (though National libraries, I think, archive tweets). There is a tool – it would be great to have a volunteer storify the session since there will be no video recording (I might record myself audio). Storify would then allow an editor to build their own account of what I said, how you responded, where we ended up. You do not have to agree with me (many already don’t!).


Please comment on this – you may have ethical views on Twitter/Storify. The technical issues – we hope – will be small although the bandwidth is somewhat variable. Please try not to download movies during my presentation.

More later I hope.

Urgent Need to Revise the New RCUK Open Access Policy

Many thanks to Peter Suber for providing further information about the open access (OA) policy recommendations of the Finch Committee and of Research Councils UK (RCUK), and the close relationship between them, based on an interview with Mark Thorley, convenor of the RCUK Research Outputs Network (RON).

Peter makes no value judgments in conveying this information, so it is unclear what he agrees or disagrees with.

I will be much more explicit: I think this is a terrible policy, ill-informed and short-sighted, which will have extremely bad effects, both in the UK and globally — if Finch/RCUK are inflexible about taking critical feedback into account and are unwilling to revise the policy in response.

I will summarize the essence of the extra information Peter has provided. It confirms my worst worries:

(1) Finch and RCUK are in agreement; there are no nontrivial differences between the two.

(2) Finch/RCUK are prepared to require UK authors to publish only in a journal that offers either Gold OA (Gratis or Libre, hybrid or “pure“) or Green OA within a maximal 6-month embargo; otherwise, the author may not publish in the journal.

? (3) If the journal offers both paid Gratis hybrid Gold and 6-month Green, the author may choose either option. [N.B. It is not entirely clear whether this interpretation is correct.]

(4) If the journal offers both paid Libre hybrid Gold and 6-month Green, the author must choose paid Libre hybrid Gold (or not publish in that journal).

(5) If the journal offers both paid Gratis hybrid Gold and Green with a longer embargo than 6 months, the author must choose paid Gratis hybrid Gold (or not publish in that journal).

(6) Finch/RCUK are aware that this policy may provide an incentive for journals that currently offer a 6-month Green option to increase their Green embargo to an unallowable length and offer Gratis hybrid Gold instead, knowing that RCUK authors must take that option if they wish to publish in the journal at all.

(7) In other words, Finch/RCUK have decided, a priori, that Libre hybrid Gold OA for the UK’s research output is worth paying extra for pre-emptively, out of scarce research funds, over and above the UK’s full continuing load of subscriptions to the rest of the world’s research output, come what may, and that Gratis hybrid Gold OA is worth requiring UK authors to choose and to pay extra for, even if it induces journals to impose an impermissible embargo length on Green OA.

(8) In addition, it is not clear that even UK researchers will be given enough of a top-sliced subsidy from generic UK research funds (“block grants”) to allow them to pay for all the Gold OA they need without having to reach into their research funds or their pockets in order to comply with Finch/RCUK.

(9) All these a priori value judgments have been made by Finch/RCUK without taking into account researchers’ views on (i) placing constraints on their journal choice, (ii) their need or desire for Libre OA, and (iii) the diversion of already scarce funds from supporting research to paying publishers extra for Gold OA (Libre or Gratis).

(10) Nor have Finch/RCUK taken into account the consequences this policy may have for the rest of the world, which may not be able to afford — and may not wish — to pay extra for Gold OA (Libre or Gratis, hybrid or “pure”), over and above subscriptions, and may now see embargoes on cost-free Green OA lengthened by publishers in order to gain the extra hybrid Gold revenue subsidy that the UK promises.

This would be an extremely bad outcome.

I will continue to do my best to try to persuade Finch/RCUK to revise this terrible policy and I hope others who understand its implications will do so too.

If the RCUK policy is not changed, I predict that UK researchers will not comply, and many years of confusion and indecision will ensue, during which the UK will lose (a) a lot of potential (Green) OA, (b) a lot of money, and (c) its historic worldwide leadership role in OA.

I am not so pessimistic about the rest of the world. There is a much more realistic and effective option, and that is to strengthen and extend Green OA mandates. Even if the unfortunate Finch/RCUK policy has the perverse effect of inducing publishers to increase the lengths of their Green OA embargoes, the ID/OA (Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access) mandate coupled with the automated “email-eprint-request” Button is immune to embargoes and was designed specifically with this contingency in mind.

The UK only publishes 6% of the world’s research output. The other 94% can still mandate ID/OA and move forward toward universal Green OA while the UK learns from sad experience what a short-sighted, ill-informed, profligate — and, if no one listens to the critical feedback, pig-headed — decision the UK has made in 2012, eight short years after the historic UK Parliamentary Select Committee recommendation that has until now made the UK the vanguard of the global OA movement:

I will now quote/comment Peter’s account of his discussion with RCUK’s Mark Thorley, but those who do not wish to enter into the details now have the gist of what is so wrong with Finch/RCUK’s proposed policy:

On Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 5:50 PM, Peter Suber wrote:

On July 25, 2012, I had a long, helpful phone conversation with Mark Thorley, convenor of the RCUK Research Outputs Network (RON), the group responsible for developing and implementing the RCUK Open Access policy…

On the role of green, Mark said that the RCUK had the same preference for gold as the Finch Group. The reason is that they want libre OA under CC-BY licenses, for example to support text-mining and to enable immediate OA without any publisher imposed embargo.

How urgent is text-mining of the UK’s 6% of world research output and CC-BY, compared to free online access to all of the world’s research output?

And what are these urgent text-mining and other Libre OA functions? All authors need and want their work to be accessible to all its intended users, but how many authors need, want or even know about Libre OA, or CC-BY?

(Make no mistake about it: All OA advocates are in favour of text-minability and as much CC-BY as each author needs and wants for their research output, over and above free online access to all research output — but certainly not text-minability and CC-BY for some research output, at the expense (in both senses) of free online access to all research output. Yet it is precisely for the latter that Finch/RCUK are insisting upon restrictions and pre-emptive payment — for UK research output, both at the local UK tax-payer’s expense, and at the expense of global Green OA.)

…the Finch Group may expect that the primary role for repositories will be for theses, grey literature, and data. But the Finch Group would definitely accept green OA for research articles when a journal offered no gold option.

In other words, having ruled out Green OA as an option for UK authors if a journal has the sense to offer Gratis hybrid Gold and to crank its Green embargo up to infinity, Finch/RCUK are not forbidding whatever residual Green might still be able to slip through a barrier as restrictive as the one it has erected…

According to Mark, the RCUK and Finch Group share this position: When publicly-funded researchers publish in a journal with a suitable gold option (where suitability is about its willingness to use a certain open license), then those authors should pursue that gold option.

I take this to mean that if the journal offers paid Libre hybrid Gold, the author must choose that, even if the journal also offers 6-month Green (but it may be even more restrictive than that, if it applies to paid Gratis hybrid Gold as well).

If the journal offers no suitable gold option but does offer a suitable green option (where suitability is about the maximum length of the embargo period), then grantees should pursue the green option instead.

In other words: If a journal has the option to offer paid hybrid Gold and crank up Green embargoes to unallowable limits, but is instead foolish enough to offer only 6-month Green, then Finch/RCUK do not forbid the author to choose 6-month green…

Don’t count on many publishers turning down the more attractive option.

If a given journal offers no suitable gold or green option, then those researchers must look for another journal, one which complies with the RCUK policy.

By way of contrast: ID/OA mandates not only (i) moot publisher embargoes but (ii) make it unnecessary to dictate authors’ journal choice.

When a journal offers both suitable green and suitable gold options, the PI may choose the option he or she thinks most appropriate.

This is ambiguous, because it is unclear what is meant by “suitable gold options”. I take it to mean:

(3) If the journal offers both paid Gratis hybrid Gold and 6-month Green, the author may choose either option.

though I am not sure of even that interpretation.

If a journal with a suitable gold OA option levies an Article Processing Charge (APC), then RCUK is willing to pay the APC. The RCUK will provide block grants to universities for paying APCs, which they will manage through the establishment of publication funds, and universities will decide how to spend the money to best deliver the RCUK policy.

And what happens to journal choice (and publication) when the year’s “block grants” have run out?

Mark concedes that managing a publication fund and establishing rules on what papers will be funded, will be a big challenge for many institutions, and obtaining faculty APC funding could be a major change of working for many authors.

It may do a good deal more than that. Let us not forget that the only thing Green OA mandates require of authors is keystrokes. Finch/RCUK is now (1) constraining journal choice, (2) redirecting scarce research funds, and perhaps eventually (3) leaving authors without the money to publish at all (if they comply).

Great confusion and non-compliance are likely. (And I have to admit that I find this policy so ruinously wrong-headed that I cannot even wish it to succeed even on its own terms: If the policy is not fixed in response to informed advance feedback, then author confusion and non-compliance may be the only way to bring the policy-makers to their senses that they have made a huge mistake.)

However, he added that journals offering a suitable gold OA option would probably not want to offer a compliant green option as well. Hence, as more journals start offering gold options to make themselves eligible for RCUK funding, many that permit green OA today may stop permitting green, or might only provide a green option with an embargo period to be too long to be compliant with the RCUK policy. Hence, authors turned down for APC funding may not have a green option to exercise at a given journal, even if those authors and their universities wanted to exercise it.

This is the very core of Finch/RCUK’s folly, and its perverse consequences are here shrugged off matter-of-factly as if they were just some minor contingency.:

The RCUK/Finch policy provides a huge incentive to subscription publishers to offer paid hybrid Gold while at the same time increasing their Green embargoes to make cost-free Green an impermissible option for UK authors. This not only deprives the UK author of the cost-free Green option, but the rest of the world as well.

(I don’t doubt that some of the members of the Finch committee may even have thought of this as a good thing: a way to induce the rest of the world to follow the UK model, whether or not they can afford it, or wish to.)

I mentioned the rights-retention OA policies at funders like the Wellcome Trust and the NIH, and at universities like Harvard and MIT….he added that “this might well be something we would consider in the future…”

The rights-retention policies have an opt-out clause: Finch/RCUK do not.

Moreover, the success of rights retention policies alone is not known. At Harvard, they are coupled with a variant of ID/OA, with no opt-out on deposit. ID/OA of course moots all retention opt-out or embargo problems.

If there are differences between the RCUK policy and the Finch recommendations, they are minor. The RCUK will go forward with its current policy, and has no plans to revise it to conform more closely to the Finch report.

But let’s hope that RCUK may still revise it in response to critical feedback like what I’ve tried to provide above.

I close with my specific recommendation on how to revise the RCUK policy:

Revising RCUK. Let’s hope that RCUK will have the sense and integrity to recognize its mistake, once the unintended negative consequences are pointed out, and will promptly correct it. The current RCUK policy can still be made workable with two simple patches, to prevent publisher-imposed embargoes on Green OA from being used to force authors to pay for hybrid Gold OA:

RCUK should:

(1) Drop the implication that if a journal offers both Green and Gold, then RCUK fundees must pick Gold


(2) Urge but do not require that the Green option must be within the allowable embargo interval.

(The deposit of the refereed final draft would still have to be done immediately upon publication, but the repository?s ?email-eprint-request? Button could be used to tide over user needs by providing ?Almost-OA? during the embargo.)

That way RCUK fundees (i) must all deposit immediately (no exceptions), (ii) must make the deposit Green OA immediately or as soon as possible and (not or) (iii) may pay for Gold OA (if the money is available and the author wishes):

Green OA:
(a) Immediate repository deposit of (at least) the final draft is required
(b) Making access to deposit Gratis OA immediately is urged
(c) Maximal Gratis OA embargo of 6 months (12 months for AHRC & ESRC) is allowed
(d) Libre OA license adoption wherever possible, and desired by author, is recommended


Gold OA:
(e) Immediate repository deposit of (at least) version of record is required
(f) Making access to deposit OA immediately is required
(g) Adoption of Libre OA License (if desired by author) is urged

This ensures that publishers (1) cannot use embargoes to force authors to pay for hybrid Gold and that authors (2) retain their freedom to choose whether or not to pay for Gold, (3) whether or not to adopt a Libre license (where it is possible) and (4) which journal to publish in.

Stevan Harnad

Worth A Thousand Words

The flowers of different species of Loasaceae, shown above, have developed impressive techniques to lure pollinators. Initially, the stamens are hidden in the boat-shaped petals, and upon stimulus by a pollinator, rapidly move towards the center of the flower to present the pollen (e.g. Fig. 1 B, E).

This stunning flower morphology and function allows the plants to avoid pollen loss in the absence of pollinators, and to increase their breeding success.

Read the whole study here.

Image Citation: Henning T, Weigend M (2012) Total Control – Pollen Presentation and Floral Longevity in Loasaceae (Blazing Star Family) Are Modulated by Light, Temperature and Pollinator Visitation Rates. PLoS ONE 7(8): e41121. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041121

Bringing the Bench to the Bedside

Exploring underlying mechanisms of cranial electrotherapy stimulation

by Randolph S. Marshall, Career Corner Editor

A commentary on the recent Brain and Behavior article, “Effects of crainal electrotherapy stimulation on resting state brain activity”, by Feusner et. al.

This interesting article by Dr. Feusner (K23 recipient) and colleagues addresses a perennial problem in neuroscience – how to verify the scientific validity of an empirically proven therapy. Feusner et. al. set out to explain the underlying mechanism of cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), a long-standing empirical treatment for mood alteration which received FDA approval in 1979. CES has been used for a variety of indications including anxiety, insomnia, depression, and pain, but without clear physiological explanation of its effect. Although several studies have reported beneficial results, it has remained unclear how subsensory alternating current delivered to the earlobes at .5 or 100Hz can alter behavioral symptoms. Preclinical work had shown effects of CES on slowing of alpha waves on EEG in monkeys, associated with reduced adverse reactions to stressful stimuli, but it was unclear whether changes in brain waves were a cause or an effect of improved clinical states. Given uncertainty about mechanisms, the authors proposed to look at effects of CES on brain activity by delivering CES to healthy control subjects while in an fMRI scanner.

One of the strengths of this study, and a general principle for successful investigations of this kind, was the generation of plausible a priori hypotheses based on other studies. Clear statement of hypotheses such as the following establish the scientific context of the study, and let the reader know what to look for in interpreting the results. The hypotheses were:

  1. CES would cause a general deactivation in cortical and thalamic regions because of prior evidence that the stimulation reduces alpha power on EEG.
  2. CES would produce alteration in connectivity networks such as default mode network (DMN) because CES 100Hz affects the EEG beta band, which correlates most highly with the DMN.
  3. CES would alter other connectivity networks such as the dorsal fronto-parietal network (FPN) because there was clinical evidence of CES affect on attention, and the sensorimotor network (SMN) because of clinical evidence for CES effect on pain.

Although there was no randomization, the study design was to use baseline (“off”) periods compared to “on” periods during stimulation. Subject blinding was done by forced choice testing prior to scanning to ensure that participants couldn’t tell if the CES machine was on or off. Subjects had no knowledge of status while in the scanner, and thus there would be no behavior confounder for changes in BOLD fMRI activity.

The authors found that CES correlated with a decreased activation in several brain regions – bilateral SMA, right supramarginal gyrus, right superior parietal and left superior frontal. No increases in regional brain activation were found. The connectivity results demonstrated that the 100Hz stimulation altered the DMN. The FPN and SMN showed no change with CES, and only the higher frequency stimulation produced alterations in connectivity.

Based on these results, the authors concluded that the study demonstrated positive proof that there is a biological effect of CES. The electrical current was proposed to reach the cortex where it would disrupt brain oscillation patterns. The reduction in BOLD activity in several brain regions was consistent with previous EEG studies demonstrating reduction in alpha frequency signal. The altered connectivity for 100 Hz and not .5 Hz was consistent with knowledge that 100Hz frequency affects the beta band, which correlates with DMN activity.  The authors closed the discussion with several unanswered questions, including how the CES alteration of brain activation and connectivity translates to clinical effect, and whether the fMRI BOLD effects they observed would be similar in subjects who had a depression, anxiety, insomnia, or pain.


This was an excellent study from the perspective of initiating a line of inquiry. Aside from the results themselves helping to advance our understanding of the effects of external electrical stimulation on brain activity, this is a strategic line of inquiry from a career perspective. Studies such as these are both hypothesis-testing and hypothesis-generating. What better way to justify your next study or grant than to generate an interesting question by answering the one at hand? High-level neuroscience journals are rife with this type of investigation. In addition, from a grants perspective, early phase clinical trial proposals are now expected to include a physiological “surrogate marker” of efficacy. Developing an imaging method to assess underlying mechanisms of clinical phenomena can therefore be a fruitful line of investigation. Congratulations to Dr. Feusner et al, and good luck with your next study!

Questions for discussion:

  1. Did the results as reported in the paper have ecological validity, i.e. seem plausible, interesting, and relevant to clinical practice? What additional studies would need to be done to convince you that the results are valid? Which hypotheses were left unproven and why?
  2. What weaknesses can be identified in the study design? What are the strengths/advantages of this design?
  3. What is the next hypothesis to test? How would the next study be best designed?

Please visit the Brain and Behavior homepage for more high-quality, Open Access papers and to sign up for our new content alerts!

Skolnik Symposium ACS 2012 #skolnik2012

Henry Rzepa and I are running the ACS Herman Skolnik award symposium tomorrow in the Philadelphia Convention Centre. We intend that this is inclusive and so will be running a twitterfall or similar so we can keep in touch with each other and also with the outside world. We also shall have some external presentations (at least 2 and maybe 4 – we shan’t know till tomorrow). We also have 2 demo sessions.

Therefore the primary coordination will be twitter on #skolnik2012. All internal audience will have wi-fi access (we are assured).

The plan is the following:

  • There is unlikely to be time for questions within the speaker’s 15 minutes (Henry and I get a huge 20 mins!). Handovers will be rapid and slick.
  • If you have in the internal or external audience a question or discussion point tweet it during or after the speaker.
  • We (or the speaker) will try to announce each speaker on the Tweet stream
  • If you are a speaker, use Twitter to answer your questions after your presentation.
  • Speakers may wish to post URLs on Twitter rather than expecting people to copy them.
  • There won’t be a video or audio stream so audience please comment on what is happening.
  • The chair will be RUTHLESS and switch you off when your time is up.

Speakers have been asked to keep the changeovers quick – so no need to spend time on lengthy anecdotes, etc.

[I haven’t yet decided what to say, so I’ll post that tomorrow.]

Maldives Digital Library using Open source software

Maldives Digital Library has been officially launched

Project objectives

The general objective of the Project is to assist libraries of the Maldives in materializing automation of library services, thereby improving the overall service provision within and among the libraries.

The specific objectives of the Project are:

  • To computerise the cataloguing and circulation functions for better efficiency in providing value added library services.
  • To develop computerised Online Public Access Catalogues (OPAC) that can be searched by the public from remote terminals.
  • To computerise the circulation services of the libraries so that checking in and out (issuing/circulation), renewing and holding services can easily and efficiently be handled with sufficient managerial records being generated.
  • To lead to the creation of a union catalogue of the Maldives Libraries that can facilitate searching of library holding across all the libraries, thereby leading to resource sharing and interlibrary loan systems.
  • To facilitate the creation of digital library collections accessible through a web portal.