- U.S. Senate Supports NIH Public Access Policy & Requests Data
- Partner News
- Industry Roundup
- Open Access News
- A Publisher's Viewpoint—Open Access: An Economic Perspective
- Upcoming Workshops
- Latest Articles of Interest
One month after the U.S. House of Representatives endorsed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access policy and called for measures to judge its effectiveness, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee followed suit, requesting a prompt and thorough report evaluating the success of the policy. The Senate report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill requests a report from NIH by February 2006 that will include data on the total number of applicable works submitted since the May 2 implementation date, as well as the embargo period selected by each submitting author.
Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC, the founding organizational member of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), noted that ATA members are committed to continuing to work to ensure the implementation of a meaningful public access policy at NIH, and are encouraged by this strong signal of support from Congress.
ATA believes that the NIH policy's success will be measured by the number of articles deposited in PubMed Central and made accessible to the public soon after publication, and has consistently asked that the NIH publicly post such statistics to help gauge the policy’s effectiveness. Last month, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni issued a positive response [PDF] to ATA’s request to post these critical submission data on the NIH public access website.
Data released by the NIH at a recent meeting of the NIH Public Access Working Group indicate that the number of submissions since the policy's implementation is very low. Based on annual data, NIH funding is responsible for about 65,000 scholarly articles per year. Therefore, NIH grantees could have chosen to place approximately 11,000 articles on PubMed Central—making this taxpayer-funded research available free to the public. However, statistics provided by NIH show that only three percent of this number, or 340 articles accepted for publication, have been submitted by NIH grantees.
SPARC members are encouraged to apply their purchase commitment to support these worthwhile publications.
The portal: Libraries and the Academy Board of Editors Awards Committee announced that “A Survey of Business Trends at BioOne: Publishing Partners and its Implications for BioOne” (October 2004, Volume 4, Number 4) has been awarded the 2005 Johns Hopkins University Press award for the best article featured in portal in 2004.
The winning article, authored by Todd Carpenter, Heather Joseph, and Mary Waltham, analyzed results from a SPARC-sponsored survey of BioOne publishers conducted in the Fall of 2003. Data were collected from both profit and not-for-profit publishers on scholarly output in terms of pages and articles produced, revenues, expenditures, profit, loss, and circulation, and compared against industry-standard benchmarks. The end result was an assessment of business practices, and a documentation of the effect of recent trends on publishers’ revenue streams and costs. The article [PDF] is available from The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Journals published by BioMed Central (BMC) have received ISI impact factors that compare well with equivalent subscription titles. Five BMC titles are in the top five of their specialty and five journals published by BioMed Central received their first impact factors this year. BMC Bioinformatics, with an impact factor of 5.42, remains one of the top journals in its field. Launched in 2000, it is the second highest ranked bioinformatics journal, and has an impact factor comparable to that of Bioinformatics (5.74), the most established journal in the field, which has been publishing for more than two decades and is supported by a major society.
BMC Genomics enters the Journal Citation Report with an impact factor of 3.25. This puts it in the top third of the genetics titles, and the top 20 percent of biotechnology journals. BMC Molecular Biology has an impact factor of 3.12, and BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders an impact factor of 1.00, putting it in the top half of the orthopedics listing. BMC Genetics has an impact factor of 0.92.
The impact factors, which are calculated by ISI, look at citations in 2004 of articles published in the journals in the period 2002-2003.The impact factor for Critical Care jumped from 1.9 to 3.21, and the journal is now third in the critical care medicine field having surpassed the competitor title Intensive Care Medicine, the official journal of the major European society. Breast Cancer Research also increased its impact factor from 2.93 to 2.98 and remains the second highest ranking breast cancer journal. Arthritis Research & Therapy maintains its rank of second in the rheumatology field with an impact factor of 4.55.
A number of other journal published by BioMed Central also saw their impact factors and rankings improve:
In other BMC news, over 67 Spanish universities, hospitals and research institutions have become BioMed Central members in recent months. The membership agreements cover the cost of publication in BioMed Central's 130+ open access journals for all researchers, teachers, and students at the member institutions. On acceptance, articles will be immediately and freely available online to all, in accordance with BioMed Central's open access policy.
In addition, the Spanish Research Council has taken out membership for all 13 of its biomedical institutions countrywide. BioMed Central now has 535 member institutions in 38 countries.
PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE
PLoS Biology’s first impact factor of 13.9 from ISI establishes it among the most highly cited journals in the life sciences. This impact factor places PLoS Biology above such established journals as EMBO Journal, Current Biology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In ISI's category of general biology journals, PLoS Biology is ranked first. PLoS Biology was launched in October 2003 as an open access home to the very best in biological research. PLoS has put out a press release touting their initial, high impact factor.
STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is concluding discussions with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the U.K. to establish all U.K. higher educational institutions as members of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy International Association (SEPIA). SEPIA is the membership organization that the Southeastern Library Network, Inc. (SOLINET), sponsored by Indiana University Libraries, has put in place to support SEP. The JISC is negotiating on behalf of all U.K. institutions to make a commitment to the SEP at the national level.
SEPIA is still collecting membership dues from other libraries and library consortia around the world. These dues will support free and open access to the SEP, and for every $3 paid in membership dues, the National Endowment for the Humanities will offer a matching $1, up to $500,000. Libraries can register their commitments online. SOLINET also maintains a list of libraries already committed to the project.
SPARC encourages its members to use funds allocated from their SPARC purchase commitment to help build the SEP protected fund.
ISI’s 2004 Journal Citation Report assigned Neuro-Oncology an ISI Impact Factor of 3.907. The increased rating further solidifies Neuro-Oncology’s position as the foremost publication in the specific field of neuro-oncology and signals its significance to the field, as evidenced by a steady increase over the three years that Duke University Press has published the journal. (ISI ratings were 2.717 and 3.365 in 2002 and 2003, respectively.) The improved 2004 ranking places Neuro-Oncology 15th among 140 ranked clinical neurology journals and 32nd among 121 ranked oncology journals. In comparison, Kluwer’s Journal of Neuro-Oncology earned an ISI Impact Factor of 1.968 for 2004 (54th in clinical neurology, 71st in oncology).
NIH’s PubChem Gains in U.S. Senate
As reported in the last issue of SPARC E-News, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has asked that NIH significantly alter its PubChem online, openly accessible database, claiming that it unfairly competes with Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), an ACS service. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), of which SPARC is the founding member, opposed the ACS position and worked to garner support for the continued operation and full functionality of PubChem.
The U.S. House and Senate reports accompanying the FY'06 Committee on Appropriations, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bills provide guidance to NIH related to PubChem and its relationship with the private sector. The report language as approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee differs from the House report language with more support for PubChem. The Senate report calls upon NIH to “work with the private sector chemical information providers, with the primary goal of maximizing progress in science while avoiding unnecessary duplication and competition with private sector databases.” The Senate focus on advancing science is notable. A conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills is expected in the Fall.
New Public Library of Science Open Access Journal
PLoS has announced the debut of its newest open access journal, PLoS Computational Biology which is a peer-reviewed journal reporting major biological advances achieved through computation. The journal publishes research from one of the most rapidly growing and exciting areas of scientific inquiry. As a collaboration between a scholarly society, the International Society for Computational Biology, and an open access publisher, the journal also provides further momentum to the shift towards unrestricted access and use of all scientific and medical literature.
The editor in chief is Dr. Philip E. Bourne, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California San Diego, co-director of the Protein Data Bank and senior advisor to the Life Sciences at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. In the inaugural issue, founding editor Bourne and co-founding editors Steven E. Brenner and Michael B. Eisen explain the vision behind PLoS Computational Biology:
What motivates us to start a new journal at this time? Computation, driven in part by the influx of large amounts of data at all biological scales, has become a central feature of research and discovery in the life sciences...Open access—free availability and unrestricted use—to all articles published in the journal is central to the mission of PLoS Computational Biology, and distinguishes this new journal from most scientific journals which still needlessly restrict access to their contents. Open access revolutionizes the way we use research literature, and takes much inspiration from the field of computational biology itself.
Cornell Introduces New Electronic Resources
Cornell University Library has announced two new electronic resources now published online using the Digital Publishing System (DPubS) software, an open source publication delivery and management system Cornell developed collaboratively with Pennsylvania State University Libraries.
The electronic resources are:
Indonesia, a semi-annual journal published by the Cornell Southeast Asia Program, offers more than 700 articles and reviews devoted to the study of Indonesia’s culture, history, government, economy, and society from 1966 to the present.
Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies is a quarterly journal that publishes the best of current scholarship on the history of the Commonwealth and the region. Published since 1934, Pennsylvania History is the official journal of the Pennsylvania Historical Association (PHA).
These new resources result from an initiative to generalize the DPubS software, supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
U.K. Research Group Rules on Government-Funded Research Access
The eight U.K. Research Councils, under the umbrella of Research Councils U.K. (RCUK), have proposed to make it mandatory for research papers arising from Council-funded work to be deposited in openly available repositories at the earliest opportunity. RCUK’s position would apply to new grants awarded after October 1, 2005.
SPARC Europe calls for wide support for the proposed policy. David Prosser, director, commented that “We are currently in the position where U.K. researchers cannot get easy access to all the work of their peers, despite the vast majority of it being published online. So, while the U.K. Government has greatly increased research spending…the return on this investment is not maximized. If implemented, the RCUK policy would rectify this.”
RCUK spent over a year consulting universities, academic libraries, researchers, and publishers to develop a fair, well-balanced policy that covers research outputs in the form of journal articles or conference proceedings. SPARC Europe encourages submission of favorable comments that support the draft during the public comment period set to end August 31st.
To further improve access to publicly funded research, the Research Councils will also make funds available for researchers to pay open access journal publication fees. In total, RCUK proposes:
- A requirement for all grants awarded from October 1, 2005 that, subject to copyright and licensing arrangements, a copy of any resulting published journal articles or conference proceedings should be deposited in an appropriate e-print repository (either institutional or subject-based) wherever such a repository is available to the award-holder. Deposit should take place at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication.
- Research Councils will also encourage, but not formally oblige, award-holders to deposit articles arising from grants awarded before October 1, 2005.
- Councils will ensure that applicants for grants are allowed, subject to justification of cost-effectiveness, to include in the costing of their projects the predicted costs of any publication in author-pays journals.
Canadian Library Association’s OA Resolution
The Canadian Library Association (CLA) has endorsed a resolution on open access which encourages members to implement open access “as expeditiously as possible.”
By Paul Peters
Senior Publishing Developer
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
While advocates of Open Access publishing have tended to focus on the social benefits of this new publishing model, there are a number of economic advantages inherent in open access publishing that are equally compelling. Speaking as a commercial publisher who has recently embraced open access, I can honestly say that it is the most promising business model available to small and mid-sized publishers today.
In the current academic publishing market there are a number of factors that make it very difficult for smaller publishers to compete with the major publishing houses like the Springer Group and Elsevier. First, the market is highly insulated from economic competition due to the way that the subscription system is structured. Second, as libraries are forced to cut their serials spending, smaller publishers who are not protected by “Big Deal” schemes are the first to suffer. Finally, it is very difficult for smaller publishers to successfully launch new journals, since the barrier to entry in the toll-access system is so high.
Under the current toll-access business model, authors choose where to publish their work largely unaware of the costs associated with a particular journal. This is because libraries, not researchers, traditionally pay the costs of publishing through subscription fees. Therefore when authors decide where to publish, they mainly consider the prestige, publishing quality, and production speed of a journal, ignoring price considerations.
In addition, libraries have a limited ability to choose which journals they wish to buy, since large commercial publishers often bundle their journals (“the Big Deal”). These bundles, which account for a large part of many libraries’ serials budgets, offer discounted prices, but libraries are not free to choose which titles they purchase. In this system, it is the size, not the efficiency, of a publisher that determines their ability to compete in the marketplace.
Over the past few years, even the wealthiest libraries have been forced to cancel subscriptions due to a widening gap between library budgets and journal prices. While “Big Deal” packages protect the major publishing houses from these cancellations, small and mid-sized publishers have been struggling to maintain subscriptions. Recent mergers between several large publishers will only make the situation worse. Therefore, small and mid-sized publishers need to find new sources of revenue and new business models that better enable them to compete.
The idea behind open access is remarkably simple. Researchers, who often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in research costs in order to produce a single article, will be asked to pay for the costs of publishing. In return, the publishers make their articles freely available online. Open access journals undergo the same peer-review and quality control as toll-access journals, which is necessary to maintain the academic prestige of a scientific publication. Authors benefit by increasing the visibility of their work, and readers benefit by having free access to scientific literature without any subscription barriers. In an open access publishing model, authors will choose where to publish by weighing the prestige, publishing quality and production speed of a particular journal against the costs associated with that journal.
In addition to increasing competition in the STM publishing market, open access will also help to reduce the enormously high barrier to entry that the toll-access model imposes on smaller publishers. If one of the larger publishing houses decides to launch a new journal, they can include it as part of their “Big Deal” package and it will immediately be distributed to hundreds of libraries. However, a small publisher who wishes to launch a new journal must convince libraries to subscribe, which is very difficult if the journal is still in its first few years. In addition, since the journal may only have a few subscribers during the early years, it will have a very limited readership, which will make it difficult to attract high quality papers.
Launching new journals can easily become a vicious circle for smaller publishers: nobody wants to publish their best work in a journal without many subscribers, but nobody wants to subscribe to a journal that doesn’t receive high-quality submissions. Since open access journals do not limit their readership to a small group of subscribers, they can attract both authors and readers immediately.
In order to illustrate the benefits of open access, I would like to describe the experience we had with one of our first open access journals, the EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking. In mid-2003, we launched this journal with the support of the European Association for Speech, Signal and Image Processing (EURASIP) and immediately began to receive submissions. By the end of 2004, EURASIP JWCN had already published 33 full-length articles in its first two issues. This year, we expect that the journal will publish its 100th article, which is quite a success for a two-year-old journal. Moreover, according to the ISI databases, EURASIP JWCN has already begun to receive citations from other prominent publications.
At the moment, Open Access may not be economically viable in every discipline, but in many well-funded fields it can be a very successful publishing model. The accomplishments of the Public Library of Science and BioMed Central have shown that open access can work in the life sciences, but I believe that this is only the beginning. By the end of 2005, we at Hindawi Publishing expect to have launched open access journals in numerous fields including electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, biotechnology, and the geosciences. While we expect to see some bumps along the way, I truly believe that we can make open access succeed in these communities.
IFLA Satellite meeting No 17.
Open access: the option for the future?
Rikshospitalet University Hospital
Saturday, August 13, 10 a.m.–4.30 p.m.
Organized by the IFLA sections:
Health and Biosciences Libraries
Science and Technology Libraries
CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication, OAI4
CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
October 20–22, 2005
The fourth workshop in the series, which began life as the Open Archives Initiative Workshop in 2001, is a forum for technical issues associated with scholarly communication.
The list that follows is a sampling of recent articles on open access, taxpayer access, and/or SPARC.
Drake, Miriam A. A Cauldron Bubbles: PubChem and the American Chemical Society. Information Today Newsbreak, June 6, 2005.
Kaiser, Jocelyn. House Approves 0.5% Raise for NIH. Science Online, June 10, 2005.
Kestenbaum, David. Chemical Society: NIH Database Hurts Business. NPR All Things Considered: Health & Science, June 12, 2005.
Marshall, Eliot. Britain’s Research Agencies Endorse Public Access. Science, July 8, 2005.
Morrissey,Susan R. NIH and ACS Spar Over PubChem: Agency's new chemical database draws concern from ACS for similarities to CAS Registry. Chemical and Engineering News, June 13, 2005.
Morrissey,Susan R. House May Ask NIH To Limit PubChem. Chemical and Engineering News, June 20, 2005.
Pickering, Bobby. US Congress fails to back ACS. Information World Review, June 16, 2005.
Sternstein, Aliya. Publishers make appeal to lawmakers in NIH dispute. Federal Computer Week, June 13, 2005.
Wills, Eric. American Chemical Society Lobbies Against a Free NIH Database That It Sees as a Competitor. Chronicle of Higher Education, June 10, 2005.
Send corrections, comments and responses to Alison Buckholtz.
Want to receive SPARC E-News in your email inbox? Fill out and submit the online form for a complementary subscription.
© SPARC 2005:
SPARC E-News is an open-access publication distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
updated: August 5, 2005