Re: FOS Newsletter Excerpts

From: Peter Suber <>
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 12:33:28 +0100

      Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter
      September 6, 2001

Since mid-May I've followed the rule of thumb not to publish issues more
often than once a week. So I apologize that this issue arrives only six
days after the last one. The reason is that tomorrow I'll be busy with
other obligations and the day after that Topica will be down for
maintenance. Besides, I already have an issue's worth ready to go. Unless
there's an unusual surge of FOS news in the coming days, I'll give us both
a break next week.


What happened?

The Public Library of Science deadline (September 1) is now behind
us. What is the consequence of 26,000+ scientists worldwide pledging not
to cooperate as authors, editors, or referees with journals that do not
make their contents freely accessible online within six months of print
publication? If you've seen news stories, send me the URLs. If you've
seen news firsthand, send me an account.

Public Library of Science


BioMed Central's method of FOS

BioMed Central (BMC) has a business model that combines revenue for the
publisher with free online access for readers. It deserves wider
examination and discussion, and perhaps imitation. To learn more about it,
I've conducted an informal email interview over the past two weeks with Jan
Velterop, BMC's publisher.

BMC publishes 18 biology journals and 41 medical journals, and plans to
publish others in the future. All of these are peer-reviewed, and all of
them provide free online access to their research articles. Readers need
not even register. Hence, the content is not hidden behind passwords and
can be crawled by major search engines.

BMC also hosts what it calls "affiliated journals". These make their
research articles freely accessible, but charge for reviews, commentaries,
and other content going beyond research itself.

How does BMC pay its costs so that readers don't have to? One source of
revenue is the non-research literature in its affiliated journals. Another
source is advertising. In the future BMC may offer alert services and peer
recommendations. If it does, then it will charge for them.

However, the most interesting and controversial source of revenue will be
author fees. Jan defended the idea in a June 13 opinion piece published at
his site (and described in the July 3 FOSN). But BMC has not yet adopted
the policy, and will not do so until 2002 at the earliest. The idea is to
charge authors about $500 per article. Jan estimates that this will cover
the full cost of electronic publication (peer review, mark-up, hosting, and
preservation). He also estimates that it is roughly one-tenth the cost of
print publication, at least in the STM fields. The fee would be waived for
authors from developing countries and in some other circumstances.

I have some thoughts about author fees and welcome yours; see the next
item, below. Meantime, we must admit that making literature freely
available to users is not free for publishers, and that author fees can
generate the revenue needed to bear these costs. Moreover, BMC will set
the fee at the actual cost (taking into account the cost of waivers) so
that it is not more burdensome than it has to be. Finally, at least in the
case of BMC, the fees will be levied in fields where most research is
funded and authors might be able to pay the fee with soft money.

Even if you hold your applause for author fees, BMC is doing a lot
right. It is committed to free online access for all the research articles
in all its journals. It always leaves copyright in the hands of the
author. It has solved the long-term preservation problem as well as print
publications have, by archiving actual print-outs once a year. Moreover,
it doesn't confine its online content to its own site or its own
database. It shares them with related, public sites like PubMed
Central. By going beyond free online access to participation in common
disciplinary archives, it meets even the lesser-known conditions of the
Public Library of Science initiative.

Finally, BMC is interested in taking this model beyond biology and medicine
to other fields. If other publishers do so as well, BMC will welcome them
as supporters of a new and better publishing paradigm, not as competitors.

BioMed Central

Jan Velterop's original case for author fees (June 13, 2001)


What do you think of author fees?

I'll be frank: I have mixed feelings about author fees. On the one hand,
author fees give readers free online access to the literature and they give
journals the revenue they need to make it happen. On the other hand, many
authors won't be able to afford them. While I admit that journals
providing free online access need some revenue, it remains the case (1)
that journals needn't get their revenue from authors and (2) that we can
achieve free online scholarship without getting it from journals. Let me
elaborate these two points.

First, journals needn't get their revenue from authors. The costs of
online journals could be borne by universities, learned societies,
foundations, governments, or endowments. In my own scale of values, we
should rely on reader payments last, author payments second to last, and
advertising third to last. When readers have to pay, then readership is
limited to those who can afford to pay. This hinders both research and
education. When authors have to pay, then publication is limited to those
who can afford to pay. This also hinders both research and
education. When advertisers have to pay, then either objectivity or the
appearance of objectivity is compromised. Even if advertising does not
distort editorial policy, readers shouldn't have to wonder about whether it
does. That leaves universities, learned societies, foundations,
governments, endowments, and creative new ideas for generating
revenue. Let's try these diligently before we conclude that they cannot
work and that we must retreat to advertisers or authors.

On the other hand, I acknowledge that we're not very close to
institutionalizing the practice of supporting electronic publication
through fees or contributions by universities, learned societies,
foundations, governments, or endowments. For example, universities give
disk space on their servers freely to faculty, but they are not as free
with funds for copy editors or peer review facilitators. Most foundations
will not even consider giving a grant to build an endowment for an
electronic journal or other scholarly resource. Are author fees acceptable
as an interim solution while we work on making them unnecessary? If they
make literature free for readers, are they at least better than systems
that charge readers?

In the natural sciences more than the social sciences or humanities,
research is funded, and it's very reasonable to ask funding agencies to
subsidize publication. But how soon can we make it commonplace for
foundations to provide for publication costs when making research
grants? (How soon can we make it commonplace to require free online
publication as a condition of research grants?) Even if the model doesn't
transfer well to other fields, it might be made workable in the most funded
disciplines or for the funded research within any discipline.

Second, we can have free online scholarship without getting it from online
journals. The best way to do so is through what Stevan Harnad calls
self-archiving. It works like this. Authors put unrefereed preprints
online in institutional archives. Then they submit their articles to
refereed journals. If the articles are accepted, and if the publisher
allows, then authors put the refereed postprints in the same institutional
archives. If a publisher does not consent to this, then the author puts
the "corrigenda" (the differences between the final version and the
preprint version) in the archive. Harnad and others have written free
software for creating interoperable archives for just this
purpose. Institutions can host these archives at no cost to them beyond
the disk space they occupy.

Having said that, I'd like to see self-archiving practiced alongside a
thriving system of free online journals. If this is to happen, then we
still need a way to subsidize the costs of the online journals. What do
you think about author fees as a solution to this problem? Please share
your thoughts on our discussion forum.

BioMed Central debate on author fees

FOS discussion forum
(Anyone may read; only subscribers may post; subscription is free.)


Phase one of PERI is complete

The Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) is a
systematic effort to improve scientific research and communication in the
developing world. It is planned in four phases. Phase One will provide
free or affordable online access to 500+ scientific journals for
universities and non-commercial research centers in six sub-Saharan
nations. In the case of some journals, digital access is provided offline
through CDs. PERI announced on September 4 that Phase One is now complete.

Future phases will extend the free online scholarship program to the rest
of Africa and beyond to Asia and Central America. It will also strengthen
African journals, African publishers, African research, and provide
training in the use of the internet for communication and electronic

PERI is sponsored by the International Network for the Availability of
Scientific Publications (INASP). The free or discounted distribution of
journals in Phase One is supported by the companies or learned societies
that publish them.

First phase of PERI complete (press release)

Journals and publishers participating in PERI Phase One

Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI)

International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP)

Blackwell Publishing press release
(Apparently, this is not yet on the Blackwell web site. Thanks to
Catherine Fisher for forwarding me a copy, which I've forwarded to the FOS
discussion forum.)

* Postscript. The program most similar to PERI's Phase One is Electronic
Information for Libraries Direct (eIFL Direct) from George Soros' Open
Society Institute (OSI). In the case of eIFL, journal subscriptions were
purchased by OSI and donated to the recipient institutions. I have not
been able to find out whether INASP purchased the journal subscriptions in
PERI's Phase One, whether INASP coordinated a large number of discounts and
gifts, or some combination of these. If anyone can shed light on this,
please let me know or post a note to our discussion forum.



New England Journal of Medicine controversy

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) gives full-text online access to
paying subscribers. Until now, an institutional subscription bought online
access for two usernames. NEJM probably intended for these to represent
two actual human beings, but for some time it has tolerated the sharing of
usernames within institutions. Toleration ends on October 1. On that
date, an institutional subscription will buy online access for five
individual computers (five specified IP addresses). NEJM will no longer
offer institution-wide site licenses. If a university wants access from
six machines, it will have to buy two subscriptions. If it wants access
from 600 machines, it will have to buy 120 subscriptions. If a university
generates dynamic IP addresses for its work stations, then those work
stations will be ineligible for access. The username and password system
allowed access from any machine, on or off campus; but on October 1 NEJM
will also stop supporting proxy servers, excluding off-campus users even
when they are bona fide institutional employees. Finally, to add service
cuts to price hikes, NEJM will also stop supporting wildcard searches.

Researchers and librarians are angry. Listen in on their protests and
strategies. Is NEJM too important a subscription for a library to
drop? Is NEJM so important that it can survive competition from journals
with much more generous access policies?

Discussion threads in LibLicense on the new NEJM policy

Protest from the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences

To search NEJM, minus PDF articles and recent issues, without subscribing
(This service from Ovid is not free.)

NEJM home page

* Postscript. NEJM's publishing director, Kent Anderson, welcomes comments
on the new policy. Send them to him at NEJM, 10 Shattuck Street, Boston,
MA, 02115-6094, USA, or by email at <kanderson _at_>.


New on the web

* The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) has launched The site uses ISI data to identify the most cited
individuals, departments, and laboratories in a given discipline, according
to 1981-1999 data. Currently it covers only chemistry, engineering,
neuroscience, and physics, but it plans to expand to other fields. Users
may browse by discipline, individual, institution, or nation. Researchers
identified by the database as "most cited" comprise less than 0.5% of all
publishing researchers.

* In a related move, the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) has launched
Science Spotlight, a service identifying the most cited and most requested
articles in the chemistry literature.

* NELINET has put online summaries of all the presentations at the IFLA
Preconference on Library Consortia held in Boston on August 16-17. For
most of the presentations, NELINET has links to full-text, and hopes to add
such links for the other presentations in the coming weeks.

* In March, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched a
student essay contest on intellectual property. A counter-organization
(WIPOUT) expects that the WIPO essays will avoid criticism in the hopes of
winning. So in response, WIPOUT has launched a counter-essay contest,
soliciting essays more critical of the current state of intellectual
property law --for example, how current copyright law prevents teachers
from assigning the most relevant materials, or how it prevents researchers
from putting their own published works on the web. Essays can be submitted
until March 15, 2002.

* Ever since Adobe instigated the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov and then
dropped its complaint against him, speculation has swirled about Adobe's
motives and thinking. In response Adobe has posted a Sklyarov FAQ at its
web site. Two surprises for those who have relied on the media: (1) Adobe
supports the prosecution of ElcomSoft (Sklyarov's employer), as opposed to
Sklyarov, and (2) Adobe does not think Sklyarov was arrested for a
scholarly presentation of a protection-breaking algorithm, but for holding
the copyright on protection-breaking software released to the public.

* The International eBook Award Foundation has announced the finalists for
the 2001 awards. Several of the finalists for non-fiction are scholarly
books, for example, David McCullough's biography of John Adams (from Simon
& Schuster). The ebook winners, as well as an award for the best ebook
technology, will be announced in Frankfurt on October 10.


Share your thoughts

* The InterPARES Project (International Research on Permanent Authentic
Records in Electronic Systems) would like your comments on a series of
draft documents produced by its task forces on authenticity, appraisal, and
preservation. Comments will be welcomed until September 26.

* The INSPIRAL Project (INveStigating Portals for Information Resources And
Learning) is looking for people who have taken online courses to
participate in two forums to help identify ways to integrate virtual
learning environments with digital library services. It will pay a small
stipend to induce participants to attend.


In other publications

* In an opinion in the September 6 _Nature_, the editors argue that we must
adopt common metadata standards in order to realize the full promise of
electronic publication. Once we have a common standard, metadata should be
coded in XML directly in scientific papers. The editors like the Open
Archives Initiative (OAI) metadata standard, in part because it is a lowest
common denominator and in part because it is already becoming widely
adopted. But they argue that some kinds of content will require richer
metadata vocabularies. Finally, the editors argue that full-text indexing
is more urgent than free online access, although they seem to endorse free
access when other priorities have been met.

* In the September 3 issue of _First Monday_, Robin Henshaw explores the
FOS implications of the trend toward paid placement in the major search
engines. If readers and free online articles depend on the major search
engines to find one another, then paid placement is a harmful
trend. (PS: The good news is that we needn't depend on the major search

* Also in the September _First Monday_, Ramzi Nasser and Kamal Abouchedid
describe the financial and technical problems facing scholarly journals in
Arab countries. Beyond these, they identify what they call an
epistemological problem: distrust or suspicion of electronic publication,
which could solve the problems facing print journals. (PS: Isn't this
problem much wider than the Arab world?)

* In the same issue of _First Monday_, Brendan Scott argues that recent
revisions of copyright law favoring publishers do very little to prevent
infringement. In fact, they tend to aggravate consumer cynicism, which
could increase infringement. Scott suggests that publishers trade in their
rhetoric of rights for a rhetoric of responsibility, which could encourage
greater reader respect and compliance.

* In the September 1 _Charlotte Observer_ Jessica Flathmann tells of a new
South Carolina state law requiring public libraries to put porn filters on
its web-connected computers. But unlike similar laws across the U.S., the
South Carolina law also requires that 10% of a library's computers (or at
least one computer, whichever is greater) offer *unfiltered* access to the
internet. As a result, libraries across the state began *removing* filters
from some of their computers. [Insert punchline here.]

* On September 1, the Pew Research Center released its report on the
internet and education in America. Among its findings: 71% of American
teenagers aged 12-17 used the internet as the major source for a recent
school project. 18% know someone who has used the internet to cheat on a
paper or test.

* In the August 31 _Salon_, Damien Cave goes further into the controversy
surrounding the U.S. Copyright Office's study of the DMCA (see FOSN, August
31). Cave quotes Eben Moglen, lawyer for the Free Software
Foundation: the report is "a smack in the face to all the professional
librarians' associations in the United States which, as the report avoids
directly saying, uniformly backed the positions that the [Copyright Office]
is rejecting." Quoting Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer for the Electronic
Frontier Foundation: "Instead of taking a stand to protect the historic
copyright balance crafted by Congress and the courts, the Copyright Office
has firmly planted its head in the sand."

* In the August 29 _ZDNet News_ Paul Festa describes a movement among world
governments not only to favor open source software, but to legislate this
preference for government agencies and government-owned
companies. Microsoft is trying to squash the movement.,4586,2809001,00.html

* The August 28 _New York Times_ carries a story on the 10th anniversary of
arXiv. It recaps the origin and history of arXiv, which recently moved,
with its founder Paul Ginsparg, from the Los Alamos National Laboratory to
Cornell University.
(Thanks to Paul Ginsparg for bringing this to my attention.)

* In an August report from ARL Monthly, Clifford Lynch describes the
metadata harvesting protocol (MHP) of the Open Archives Initiative
(OAI). Lynch describes why the MHP is of general application and need not
apply only to archives of scholarly or freely accessible content. He also
explains why the MHP departs from the Z39.50 protocol and why, despite this
departure, the two protocols can be made compatible. Finally, Lynch
speculates on some novel and interesting applications of MHP and enumerates
some of the issues to resolve in the future evolution of MHP.


Catching up (old news I should have discovered sooner)

* Free is best, but affordable is second-best. If you represent a library
and want to get the best terms in your licensing agreements with journals,
databases, and other sources of digital information, then download the
license-drafting software from LibLicense. It will write an agreement to
fit your needs, based on the evolving consensus of the many subscribers to
the LibLicense mailing list. Version 2.0 appeared in July. The software
is free.

* In August 2000 the California Digital Library formed a task force to make
recommendations on how academic libraries should acquire and lend ebooks.
The task force issued its report on March 15, 2001.

The full report of the task force

Background on the task force, its charge, and its data

Lucia Snowhill's summary of the report in D-Lib Magazine


Following up

* In our August 16 issue we reported on Cal State University's contract
with netLibrary, giving it permission to lend netLibrary ebooks to more
than one patron at a time. Our source was an August 14 story in the
_Chronicle of Higher Education_. Now Cal State U has published an open
letter correcting some inaccuracies in the _Chronicle_ story. If the
letter is designed to assuage concerns that Cal State is getting benefits
unavailable to other libraries, then the letter could clarify more than it
does. On the one hand, it acknowledges that Cal State was part of a
Multiple Access Pilot Project. On the other, it insists that "at no time,
were there any elements of this project that fell outside of the
contractual relationships netLibrary has in place with its publishers or
library customers."



If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your
observations with us through our discussion forum.

* DELOS Workshop on Interoperability in Digital Libraries
Darmstadt, September 8-9

* Experimental OAI Based Digital Library Systems
Darmstadt, September 8

* Preserving Online Content for Future Generations
Darmstadt, September 8

* International Autumn School on the Digital Library and E-publishing for
Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics
Geneva, September 9-14

* Digital Libraries: Advanced Methods and Technologies, Digital Collections
Petrozavodsk, September 11-13

* The Fundamentals of Digital Projects (Illinois Digitization Workshop)
Urbana, Illinois, September 20

* Intellectual Property and Multimedia in the Digital Age: Copyright Town
New York, September 24; Cincinnati, October 27; Eugene, Oregon, November 19

* Digital Resources for Research in the Humanities
Sydney, September 26-28

* EBLIDA Workshop on the Acquisition and Usage of Electronic Resources
The Hague, September 28

* Summer School on the Digital Library 2001: Electronic Publishing
Florence, October 7-12

* IT in the Transformation of the Library
Milwaukee, October 11-14

* International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications 2001
Tokyo, October 22-26

* Information in a Networked World: Harnessing the Flow
Washington D.C., November 2-8

* Electronic Book 2001: Authors, Applications, and Accessibility
Washington D.C., November 5-7


This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to interested colleagues. If
you are reading a forwarded copy of this issue, you may subscribe yourself
by signing up at the FOS home page or the FOS Newsletter page.

FOS home page, general information, subscriptions, editorial position,
feedback form

FOS Newsletter, subscriptions, back issues

FOS Discussion Forum, subscriptions, postings

Guide to the FOS Movement

Peter Suber

Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber

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Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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