Creative Commons plays an instrumental role in the Open Access movement, which is making scholarly research and journals more widely available on the Web. Last month, Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, spoke at Oxford University on the role of open access in maximising the impact of biomedical research. Wellcome is one of the world’s leading funders of scientific research. Walport’s lecture was the fourth in a series on scholarship, publishing and the dissemination of research presented by the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA). The series is designed to stimulate debate on the issues surrounding changes in scholarly communications.
In a reflection of the venue — Bodleian Library’s Convocation House where the, audience perched on the same 17th century seats as Charles II’s parliament — Walport traced the history of Western scientific publication noting that scientists have delayed dissemination of their findings for centuries. When Gallileo discovered the rings around Saturn Galilei, for example, he sent a coded summary of his findings to his competitors so that once his work became public he would be able to unmask the perpetrator should any of them try to steal his credit. Walport also reported that scientific publication was banned during certain periods as too dangerous for public consumption.
Scientists today are still highly dependent on attribution for their status. Publication in prestigious journals remains the prime determinant of a researcher’s employment and funding opportunities. Open access journals historically suffered a lack of prestige as their peer review procedures were perceived as less rigorous.* Open data faces similar barriers; while Wellcome and other major funders in the genome field have mandated deposit of data in open repositories, most of the larger scientific community continues to hoard findings until a desired personal value can be extracted.
Traditional commercial publication is not the only way to protect scientific reputations, however, and Walport urged academic institutions to take back their traditional responsibility for the dissemination of knowledge by promoting open access mechanisms that still address the researcher’s needs for attribution. The PLoS business model presents alternative funding approaches capable of supporting academic publication. Most importantly, academicians are recognizing that they themselves have been providers of the major value of publication – the actual peer review – a free service that could be as easily provided to open access publishers as to proprietary ones. Alternatives such as PLoS One’s post-publication peer review mechanisms by the scholarly community at large may also prove effective.
Walport believes that science is on the cusp of an historic change in regard to publication practices and advised the university to take an aggressive role in the open access movement.
A video of Walport’s presentation will be posted shortly on the oxford scholarly communications debate website.
*Corrected from “Open access journals do not yet share that prestige as they rarely include peer review mechanisms.“7 Comments »
Nick Shockey is the Director of the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC) and the Director of Student Advocacy at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). The R2RC is an international alliance of 31 graduate and undergraduate student organizations, representing nearly 7 million students, that promotes an open scholarly publishing system based on the belief that no student should be denied access to the research they need for their education because their institution cannot afford the often high cost of scholarly journals. We spoke to Nick about similarities in the open access and open educational resources movements, the worldwide student movement in support of access to scholarly research, and the benefits of adopting Creative Commons tools for open access literature.
“It all started in a hotel room in Paris,” explains Shockey, who while studying abroad at Oxford and on a brief trip to France happened to catch a CNN special about MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) program. Nick was immediately impressed by the idea of OCW, and upon his return to Trinity University campaigned to get his school to implement a similar program. For a number of reasons, OCW didn’t catch on at Trinity, but the experience Shockey gained in advocating for it provided him with two crucial pieces that led to his work at SPARC: a deep interest in opening up the tools of education, and an introduction to Diane Graves, Trinity’s University Librarian and then SPARC Steering Committee member. Shockey began advocating for open access to research at Trinity, and convinced the student government to pass a resolution supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), as well as a later resolution endorsing the Student Statement on the Right to Research. The statement calls for students, researchers, universities, and research funders to make academic research openly available to all. These principles formed the foundation for what was to become the Right to Research Coalition.
Growth of R2RC
In the summer after Shockey moved to Washington D.C., he was able to add new signatories to the Student Statement on the Right to Research, including the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) and the National Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students. It soon became clear that a larger impact could be made by organizing as a coalition that actively advocated for and educated students about open access, and Nick joined SPARC full time to lead the Right to Research Coalition.
R2RC has grown to include 31 member organizations and now represents nearly 7 million students worldwide. “The incredible diversity of our membership speaks to how important access to research is to students,” says Shockey. R2RC’s members range in size from groups with less than a hundred students to organizations with more than a million. But Nick notes that all the member groups have two things in common: they believe students should have the benefit of the full scholarly record (not just the fraction they or their institution can afford), and they recognize that the Internet has made unfettered access possible by driving down the marginal cost to distribute knowledge virtually to zero.
Federal open access advocacy
SPARC and the Right to Research Coalition have been supportive of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a law which would require 11 U.S. government agencies with annual output research expenditures over $100 million to make manuscripts of journal articles stemming from research funded by that agency publicly available via the Internet. While FRPAA didn’t pass in 2010, Shockey’s very happy with the remarkable progress made, which culminated last year in the Congressional hearing on the issue of public access to federally funded research. Shockey, colleague Julia Mortyakova, and R2RC members have been advocating in support of FRPAA in various ways, such as letter-writing campaigns and in-person office visits. Shockey estimates his membership has reached out to well over two hundred Congressional offices.
Student support for OA around the world
Shockey describes that the current situation of limited access to academic research is a widespread problem that affects students all around the world. But, he explains that the real difference isn’t between the United States and the rest of the world, but between the developed and the developing world. “Paying $30 for access to one article is expensive even for many researchers in the U.S.,” says Nick, “but when you realize that $30 is an entire average month’s wage in Malawi, you can see the huge disparities in access faced by huge swaths of people around the world.”
At the end of last summer, R2RC began a concerted effort to expand their coalition to incorporate international student groups, and launched their Access Around the World blog series to feature stories and activities from students across the globe. In fall 2010, Shockey pitched the importance for student access to scholarly research to the European Medical Students’ Association’s General Assembly in Athens and the European Students’ Conference in Berlin. “The students understood the issue right away and have gotten involved immediately,” says Nick. The President of the European Medical Students’ Association has already made a presentation on Open Access and the R2RC at a major international medical conference, and just this month, the coalition welcomed the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), the world’s largest medical student organization, which operates in 97 countries around the world.
Access is crippled by cost; OA enables novel downstream benefits
The high cost to users to access academic journals and educational materials is a criticism shared by advocates of open access (OA) and open educational resources (OER). Scholarly journal prices have increased at 200% the level of inflation, similar to that of college textbook prices. Shockey believes that the that the greatest value of open access is to help knock down the prohibitive barriers that high prices pose to individual users. “A singe U.S. university we studied spent about $900,000 for only 96 journal subscriptions–and that was at a well-funded school,” says Shockey. “At less wealthy institutions, or those in the developing world, the price barriers often prove insurmountable. Students and researchers must make do with what their school can afford rather than what they need.”
Nick explains that through open access, the entire scholarly record could be available for anyone to read and build upon, leading to innumerable public benefits. But he’s most excited by the uses of open access scholarship we can’t even think of at the moment. “Lawrence Lessig points out that the real ‘secret sauce’ of the Internet is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to innovate on it,” says Shockey, “and I believe open access will finally bring this ability to academic research.” Nick describes a world of open access in which researchers will not only be able to read any article, but also be permitted to perform semantic text mining to uncover trends no one person could discover and connect together. But for this promise to be fulfilled, he reinforces that researchers need access to the entire scholarly record, not just a selected subset, and the rights necessary to reuse these articles in new and interesting ways.
Open access and Creative Commons
Shockey explained that Creative Commons plays a crucial role within the OA movement by providing a standard suite of prepackaged open content licenses. “To make an obvious point,” he said, “very few researchers are also copyright lawyers, and the CC licenses make it simple for scholars and journals to make their articles openly available. CC also helps prevents a patchwork system where it’s unclear which uses are allowed and which are not.” Nick notes that this sort of ambiguity can be very harmful–particularly to reuse of content, so it’s important that the open access community leverages CC to ensure access and communicate rights.
Shockey says that the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license has become the gold standard for open access journals. In general, scholars want recognition for their work, and the CC BY license ensures attribution to the author while allowing anyone to read, download, copy, print, distribute, and reuse their work without restriction. Shockey notes that several studies have shown a strong increase in article views and citations when an article is made openly available. “This makes intuitive sense,” Nick says. “If an article is available for more people to read and build upon, it’s unsurprising that it will also tend to be cited more often. Given the importance of citation counts in academic advancement, the citation increase can be an important benefit that flows from open licensing.”
OA support via the university
Open access (and increasingly, OER) initiatives at universities have been promoted in part through the university library. For example, at some schools librarians help educate faculty and students about the options available to them for scholarly publishing, including administering the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum. Shockey thinks that the library is a natural central organizing venue for OA and OER work, and meshes well with the library’s fundamental mission to provide their community with access to the educational resources they need. Nick also noted that libraries are perfectly positioned to play an OA/OER organizing role because they are one of the only institutions that reaches every department and every member of the campus community. Shockey said that some libraries have already taken the lead by supporting initiatives such as the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE), which sets aside money to pay for the publication fees that some open access journals charge, in order to help transition to an open model.
OA and OER working together
Open access advocates argue that access to scholarly literature should not be limited to scientists and academics, but available to patients, parents, students at all levels, entrepreneurs, and others. Shockey believes that since the OA and OER movements are both working to enable free access to the tools of education, it’s important to explore the ways in which these movements can work together. Even though the R2RC is centered on open access, it’s begun to weave OER into its messaging alongside open data and open science. Nick thinks it’s important for R2RC members to see the larger network in which they work. “When we hit roadblocks in one area,” said Shockey, “there are often opportunities in others, and advancing one of these pieces (be it OA, OER, open data, open video, etc) opens the door for further progress in other areas. Furthermore, once you’ve convinced someone about one of these issues, be it a friend, colleague, or the U.S. Congress, it’s much easier to engage them on the others.”
Shockey is optimistic with regard to the future of the student open access movement, but stresses the need to move ahead with the clear vision that advancements in education, science, and scholarship require access to raw research materials. “We must always remember what it is we’re fighting for,” said Shockey, “academic research is the raw material upon which not only education but also scientific and scholarly advancement depend. When we allow these crucial resources to be locked away, it hinders the entire mission of the Academy – student learning suffers, scholarly research is impeded, and scientific discoveries are slowed.” Nick says that widespread open access promises to benefit science and scholarship in radical ways that are almost unimaginable today. “Open access will improve how we teach, learn, and solve problems in ways that are impossible within a closed system.”
While there are many ways to get involved with the Open Access movement, Shockey stressed that the most important was simply to learn about this issue of access to research and start conversations with friends, colleagues, mentors, and students to raise awareness. The R2RC website has an individual version of their Student Statement on the Right to Research open for anyone to sign, as well as a host of other education and advocacy resources for those interested in Open Access.Comments Off
This week is the fourth annual Open Access Week, and starting yesterday Oct 18, the official kick-off date, the CC community has been participating in various open access events around the globe. “Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” Taking place the same week everywhere, Open Access Week brings together people from all ends of the academic and research communities at various worldwide conferences, workshops, and other events to “continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.” Below is a (not exhaustive) list of what CC jurisdiction leads, open culture and open education advocates, and the Creative Commons staff are doing to inspire open access.
CC Colombia is kicking things off at a CC Salon in Cali today with the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (UAO). Tomorrow (Oct 20), they are holding a training activity on copyright and CC licenses for teachers at the Universidad de la Sabana (Chia), and they’ll end the week with a conference with the research group of students at the National University (Bogotá) on Oct 21. More info can be found at CC Colombia’s blog, the heart of which was kindly translated by CC Colombia Project Lead Carolina Botero.
CC Aotearoa New Zealand
CC New Zealand will be focusing on open education this week, holding a webinar on Friday entitled, “Remixing Aotearoa,” as part of the Open Education Resource Foundation’s OA Week’s webinar series. If you’re in a manageable timezone, you can sign up to attend the webinars via WikiEducator. CC NZ will also be featuring a series of interviews and profiles of individuals using CC. For more info, visit their site.
CC Spain Project Lead Ignasi Labastida i Juan, also the head of the Office for Knowledge Dissemination at the Universitat de Barcelona, has organized several talks on open journals and open repositories following last year’s events. More info about the program in Catalan can be found at the University site and in English at the OA Week site. Ignasi himself spoke on Monday about OA policies and developments, and today will be speaking about research repositories.
CC board and staff
Founding board member and professor at American University, Michael Carroll, will be speaking at the University of Maryland later this week (Oct 21) to “discuss the growing open access movement, why access to information is so important, and what you can do to promote open access to your research.” Science Commons Vice President, John Wilbanks, started the week yesterday at the University of Utah, and will be speaking at UC Davis again on Friday, in addition to a webinar for open access participants in Portugal on Thursday. CC Fellow Greg Grossmeier is speaking at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale on Wednesday, and will also give a talk on open educational resources (OER) at berlin8 in Beijing, China next week (Oct 26). Myself, Jane Park, am participating in a panel today at NYU on open access for education, following the recent launch of NYU’s Open Education Pilot. Also stay tuned for Open Society Foundation (OSF) Policy Fellow Timothy Vollmer’s interview with SPARC’s Right to Research Coalition this week; the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is also a major organizer of OA Week activities.
Creative Commons and Open Access — Doing our homework: Science @ Creative Commons, Open Access, and Lessons for OER
To further celebrate open access week in your part of the world, check out our brief analysis of Creative Commons’ contribution to the Open Access movement. We cover university access policies, the NIH Public Access Policy, the protocol for implementing open access data, and more, drawing comparisons and lessons from the development of the movement to how the open educational resources (OER) movement is progressing today. This is how we’re thinking about open access and open education, and we’d love your feedback.
Digitally Open: Innovation and Open Access Forum in Qatar
Lastly, we’d like to point you to a major event that’s going to happen this Saturday in Qatar. This day-long forum celebrating open access features CC CEO Joi Ito, Science Commons VP John Wilbanks, CC Collecting Societies Liaison Paul Keller, CC Creative Director Eric Steuer, and CC Arab World Media and Development Manager Donatella Della Ratta (who is involved in organizing the event). For the full line-up of open access superstars, check out the event page.
Creative Commons is deeply honored to announce CERN corporate support at the “creator level”. CERN is one of the world’s premier scientific institutions–home of the Large Hadron Collider and birthplace of the web. This donation comes on the occasion of the publication under Creative Commons licenses of the first results of LHC experiments.
Dr. Salvatore Mele, CERN Head of Open Access, provided the following statement:
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The High-Energy Physics community in general, and the frontier experiments it runs at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN aim to unravel the mysteries of the universe. This major ambition can only be reached on foundations of technology and innovation, collaboration and partnership, and perhaps above all, on shared information, which is why this community has strived at Open Access to its scientific results since decades already.
The evolution of scholarly communication in the field, recently embodied by the SCOAP3 initiative, has reached an important milestone with the publication of the first results of the LHC experiments under a Creative Common license. These have appeared in the European Physical Journal (Springer) doi:10.1140/epjc/s10052-009-1227-4 (CC BY-NC); Journal of High Energy Physics (SISSA), doi:10.1007/JHEP02(2010)041 (CC BY-NC); Physics Letters (Elsevier), doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2010.03.064 (CC BY); and Physical Review Letters (APS), doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.022002 (CC BY).
CERN has become a supporter of Creative Commons to acknowledge the contribution that its licenses make to accelerating scientific communication and simplifying the way researchers share their work. The Creative Commons Attribution license is an important tool for the publication of CERN’s experimental results.
Last week we tweeted that Cologne-based libraries had released 5.4 million bibliographic records under CC0. This is tremendous news, as “libraries have been involved with the Open Access movement for a long time.” From the press release,
Rolf Thiele, deputy director of the USB Cologne, states: “Libraries appreciate the Open Access movement because they themselves feel obliged to provide access to knowledge without barriers. Providing this kind of access for bibliographic data, thus applying the idea of Open Access to their own products, has been disregarded until now. Up to this point, it was not possible to download library catalogues as a whole. This will now be possible. We are taking a first step towards a worldwide visibility of library holdings on the internet.”
“In times in which publishers and some library organisations see data primarily as a source of capital, it is important to stick up for the traditional duty of libraries and librarians. Libraries have always strived to make large amounts of knowledge accessible to as many people as possible, with the lowest restrictions possible,” said Silke Schomburg, deputy director of the hbz. “Furthermore libraries are funded by the public. And what is publicly financed should be made available to the public without restrictions,” she continued.
With so much library data now in the public domain, there emerges greater potential synergy for libraries and the Semantic Web:
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The North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center has recently begun evaluating the possibilities to transform data from library catalogs in such a way that it can become a part of the emerging Semantic Web. The liberalization of bibliographic data provides the legal background to perform this transformation in a cooperative, open, and transparent way. Currently there are discussions with other member libraries of the hbz library network to publish their data. Moreover, “Open Data” and “Semantic Web” are topics that are gaining perception in the international library world.
Many readers of this blog will be especially interested in the report’s section on open access to public sector information:
An open access approach to the release of public sector information is a logical response to the digital economy and innovation benefits that can result from new and emerging digital use and re-use, subject to privacy, national security or confidentiality concerns. In this context, ‘open access’ means access on terms and in formats that clearly permit and enable such use and re-use by any member of the public. This allows anyone with an innovative idea to add value to existing public sector information for the common good, often in initially unforeseen or unanticipated ways.
As one commentator has argued, “[n]o one supplier, public or private, can design all information products required to meet the needs of all users in a modern information-based economy.” By opening access to appropriate categories of government information to all members of the public, those best placed to innovate can do so and the market can decide which product is most useful.
The report covers many other topics, befitting its definition of “digital economy”:
The global network of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communications technologies, such as the internet, mobile and sensor networks.
Congratulations to all involved, especially former CC General Counsel Mia Garlick, who last year joined the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to lead its digital economy initiatives.Comments Off
Steps towards openness were taken yesterday by the University of Oregon Library, as its faculty unanimously passed a resolution requiring all library faculty-authored scholarly articles to be licensed CC BY-NC-ND (thanks to Peter Suber of Open Access News). Although NC-ND does not allow derivations (which may include translations and other adaptations) of the articles, library faculty also have the option of licensing their works under one of the more open licenses, including CC BY-SA and CC BY.
We highly encourage library faculty (and libraries in general) everywhere to consider adopting these more open CC licenses for their content (especially CC BY). If you remember from last October, the University of Michigan Library adopted CC BY-NC for all of its works, including those to which the University of Michigan held copyrights. Stripping away the ND term enables collaboration across institutions, as you are granted more than the simple right to access, but to also adapt, translate, and improve the work.
However, adopting CC BY-NC-ND is a step in the right direction. From the announcement,
“We largely followed the leads of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and most recently Oregon State (our friends and rivals). One area where we differ is in explicitly mandating a CC-BY-NC-ND license. Choosing that license was very conscious. We believe that it is vital that the community standardize on a small number of licenses to move beyond the present mess where every publisher and practically every author has their own unique terms. The license we chose is a good candidate for standardization. … Authors who wish to can of course also license their works under a more liberal license such as CC-BY-SA.”
For more information on our Open Access work, visit the Scholar’s Copyright Project page.1 Comment »
The NIH Public Access Policy, which was due to expire this year, has now been made permanent by the 2009 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law last week.
Last year, Science Commons, SPARC, and ARL jointly released a White Paper authored by our board member Mike Carroll called “Complying With the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy,” explaining the new NIH-mandated PubMed deposit requirement and questions that grant recipients should consider in designing a program to comply with it. At that time, the new mandatory policy had just taken effect, and many recipients were still learning how to comply. Nevertheless, the results were dramatic. Prior to NIH’s mandatory deposit requirement, under a voluntary policy NIH began in 2005, the compliance rate in terms of deposits in PubMed had been very low (4%, as published in an NIH report to Congress in 2006). Shortly after the adoption of the new mandatory policy, submissions spiked to an all time high, prompting an NIH official to project compliance rates of 55-60%. Just take a look at this NIH chart, and note the sharp rise after the policy took effect in early 2008.
In a subsequent White Paper that Science Commons and SPARC jointly issued, our recommendations included looking beyond compliance with the new policy and taking this opportunity to develop comprehensive institutional deposit and public access policies, such as Harvard’s open access policy.
Making the NIH Public Access Policy permanent will provide scholars and institutions with much needed certainty and impetus to focus on implementing these requirements within their institutions. It also creates a opportunity for scholars, universities, and the research community to take a broader look at their institution’s scholarly publishing and open access policies, not only as it applies to deposit in PubMed, but also as it applies to their own institutional repositories and scholarly communities.
We will work with our collaborators to develop further policy and legal briefings for university and public research institutions who are studying these issues. Look for that this summer.Comments Off
Open Access Week at the University of Michigan is “a week-long, campus-wide exploration of Open Access.” And a discussion sponsored by the Michigan Library on this topic couldn’t come at a better time; libraries are facing tough economic situations and the current political discourse around copyright and open access needs to be addressed. Featured Commoner (on behalf of Michigan Libraries) Molly Kleinman said it best on her personal blog announcing Open Access Week:
First we have the return of the dreadful Fair Copyright In Research Works Act, which is opposed by just about everyone except commercial publishers, including 33 Nobel Laureates in science. Then comes the word that together Elsevier and LexisNexis earned over $1.5 billion US in profit in 2008. For Elsevier that’s an adjusted operating margin — a profit — of 33%. While universities across the country are facing budget cuts of 20% or more, Elsevier brings in 33% profits, largely on the backs of university libraries. And economic news more broadly indicates that no library will escape unscathed. When Harvard starts laying off librarians and eliminating subscriptions, we’re all in trouble.
And that is only a small sub-section of the issues facing libraries today, including big issues like the Google Books Settlement. What better time to speak about the use of Creative Commons licenses in academic journals and what technological tools Creative Commons is developing to build an ecosystem of openness? With the right tools and the right attitude academic libraries will be a major player in fixing many of these issues.
Nathan Yergler, CTO at Creative Commons, will be speaking during Open Access Week on March 23rd on the University of Michigan campus. Everyone is welcome to join this event, and all of the events during Open Access Week. For the details about Nathan’s talk, check out the the schedule.2 Comments »
If I hadn’t interned for Clarity Films one summer, I would never have learned most of what I know now about the apartheid, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu. I spent hours transcribing interviews and condensing documentary footage into some type of digital package that I don’t recall the name of (nor do I remember the outdated technology I used). What I do remember: the world’s reactions to the tumult that surrounded South Africa within the past fifty some odd years.
Now, anyone can learn about South Africa and its rich heritage with the recent launch of OpenSA, “a pilot project to make South African heritage more accessible for remixing and re-publishing by online creators.” From the announcement at The African Commons Project:
“In collaboration with SA Rocks and the African Commons Project, OpenSA! is collecting, tagging and managing donations from people who are willing to make their material freely available online. OpenSA! will also be helping to coordinate outreach to South Africa’s young creators to enable them to learn more about how to find open content that they are free to remix and share.
As access to the Internet grows in South Africa, so too does the range of creative activity by a new generation of active online citizens. Internet publishing in the form of blogging and citizen journalism, online publishing of photographic, video and music publishing are all part of a wide range of democratic speech that we as a young nation are trying to encourage and nurture.”Comments Off