Symposium on open access and digital preservation

This text documents my experiences at the Symposium on open access and digital preservation , Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, October 2, 2004.

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Introduction

"Open access" is a recently coined phrase used to denote a scholarly publishing philosophy and process. It is a direct reaction to an environment where scholarly journal prices are increasing at phenomenal rates coupled with the possibilities of a globally networked computer environment -- the Internet. I had the opportunity to attend this symposium, listen to a number of people who are deeply involved in open access publishing, and discuss the issues with sets of peers. This travel log shares what I learned.

David Seaman (Director of the Digital Library Federation ) provided an overview of the open access environment. He set the stage for the balance of the day's presentations/discussions. His comments can be divided into three parts: 1) preservation, 2) institutional repositories, and 3) publishing.

Regarding the first thing, Seaman said that methods for preservation of digital materials are not the same as the methods for physical (analog) materials. With analog materials, "benign neglect" is a good thing. Put it on a shelf. Don't use it. Don't touch it, and it will be preserved. On the other hand, it is exactly the opposite with digital materials. The more it is used, the more it is copied and handled, the more it will be preserved. (A workshop workbook recently distributed by Cornell alluded to the same ideas.) In the world of open access publishing and publishing in general, preservation has different meanings. Publishers and librarians/archivists have different time scales when it comes to preservation and access. One of the particular challenges to preservation of digital information is building trust and defining responsibility. Trust takes time to build. Responsibilities are not clearly articulated.

Institutional repositories were his next topic. He sees them as part of an open access publishing system. He said institutional repositories are ways to disclose the assets of an institution. ( DSpace seems to be the primary example of an institutional repository.) Seaman said that the idea of institutional repositories is gaining prominence in Europe more so than the United States. This may be because of the countries of Europe have more national libraries. In his opinion, in order for institutional repositories to work, faculty need to learn what benefits are in it for them. Traditionally, they do not see themselves as "asset workers". Where is their loyalty? The department? The school? The university? Academe in general? Themselves?

On the topic of publishing itself, Seaman differentiated two types of open access: green and gold. Green open access is also defined as self-archiving, a process where authors are permitted to put their fully published articles on their own websites. Apparently almost 90% of scholarly publishers formally allow authors do to such things, even Elsevier. Ideally, green open access publishing, if successfully co-coordinated, could provide significant access to the scholarly literature, but can academe co-ordinate these things successfully? Gold open access is defined as free access to scholarly articles when they are systematically deposited into archives and freely available from the publisher. There are very few gold open access archives.

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Legal, economic, and social aspects of open access

Ray English (Director of Libraries, Oberlin College and SPARC Steering Committee Member) gave an overview of SPARC , what it is and where it is going. SPARC is an acronym for Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. It was founded to resolve many of the issues in scholarly communications, the serials pricing crisis, and scholarly publishing. It does this by: 1) providing alternative titles to the high-priced commercial titles, 2) encourages "leading edge" publishing efforts such as combining multimedia and text into the same article, 3) fostering relationships between publishers and scientists, and 4) being an advocacy group. According to English, about one third of the SPARC titles are open access titles. The Directory of Open Access Journals is a SPARC partner, but as the folks of the DOAJ have discovered, open access journals are not easily harvestable. English sang the praises of institutional repositories too.

Mark McCabe (Professor of Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology) examined open access publishing from an economics point of view. The thrust of his message compared the current state of open access publishing to the "horseless carriage". The "horseless carriage" was a mechanical implementation of a horse-draw cart. As the automotive industry matured, and there were more choices other than black and the automobile was born. The combination of publishing and the Internet are at the same point in development. Publishing is simply automating the same publishing process, but as the industry matures new forms of publishing will be created. Open access may be one of these new forms. He also thought the question is open access is really a more philosophic one. Is scholarly publishing a public good or a private interest. In his opinion, it seemed that in the United States, it is more of a private interest. In Europe it seems more like a public good.

Dwayne Buttler (Endowed Chair for Scholarly Communication, University of Louisville) described the state of copyright in an digital environment. He outlined things like "classic rights" such as rights to reproduction, distribution rights, preparation of derived works rights, public performance rights, and public display rights. He then allude to other "rights" which were not really covered by law such as moral rights, anti-removal rights, and anti-bootlegging rights. The challenge now-a-days is not as much copyright as it is that licenses trump copyrights because they are legal agreements. Copyright is/was intended to cover all copyrights, but he suggested that there may be different copyrights for different types of materials. In short, he did not think copyright law is working in our digital environment.

Institutional partnerships and organizational issues

This panel consisted of Carolyn Arms (Library of Congress NDIIP Program), Martin Halbert (Director of Library Systems, Emory University), and Tyler Walters (Associate Directory, Digital and Technical Services, Library and Information Center, Georgia Institute of Technology). Arms described the recently awarded NDIPP preservations grant from the Library of Congress. The purpose of the grants are to explore and recommend methods for preserving data that is "born digital". Emory was one of the grantees. It will be working with quite a number of other institutions, such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, to preserve materials of Southern culture. Halbert gave an over view of this project and Walters described how they plan to use LOCKSS and OAI-PMH to implement part of the solution.

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Featured speaker

David Shulenburger (Executive Vice Chancellor of the University of Kansas) outlined what the scholarly community wants in regard to publishing: 1) peer-review, 2) easy access in usable forms, 3) preservation of the historical record, and 4) control of price inflation. He believes a solution to these problems is institutional repositories, a solution he has been advocating since 1998. Consequently, he endorses the recent draft policy articulated by the NIH , whereby all NIH-funded research output be deposited and made available in PubMED six months after publication, be put into practice. Once this gets off the ground he advocates other federal funding agencies follow suit. He believes this will have a trickle down effect and cause private funding agencies and then universities to do the same.

Shulenburger does not advocate the author-pay model such as the one implemented by the PLoS (Public Library of Science) . Such a model, he believes, will create inflation rates higher than current rates because individual authors' desire to publish will be so very high. Demand will be great and therefore prices will be high. Additionally, author-pay models shift the cost of publishing to academia, and publishers will then have a free ride.

Nor does Shulenburger advocate the self-archiving, voluntary archiving model. There are not enough people motivated enough to make it worthwhile. Additionally, just because publishers have allowed authors to self-archive, this permission is not irrevocable. Just because there is permission now does not mean there will be permission in the future. Furthermore, articles need to be self-archived "correctly". When things are self-archived they are more likely to be changed, edited, deleted, etc. Institutional repositories address these problems, the problems of appropriate copy.

In short, Shulenburger thought the market of scholarly communications is broken. The price of journals is in-elastic. Open access publishing and institutional repositories represent a way to address these problems.

Technology of open access and digital preservation

Thomas Robertson (LOCKSS Project, Stanford University) described the philosophy and workings of LOCKSS (Lot's Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) . As many preservationists know, one of the best ways to preserve a thing is to duplicate it many times and distribute the duplicates. This is the idea behind LOCKSS, a system designed to mirror LOCKSS-enabled electronic journals. Technically, the solution works by turning a commodity PC into a Unix computer and providing a user interface for collecting content. Once the content is collected it is verified with other LOCKSS archives for integrity. Any one of these PC's could archive a ridiculously large number of electronic journals because electronic texts, in general, do not take up a lot of disk space. Robertson did outline other preservation models (using CD/DVD, pay somebody else to do the work, centralize the data) but he did not advocate any of them. Instead, you need to build an archive and build a community around it. Use LOCKSS to mirror your content, and when the content is not accessible from the publisher, use the LOCKSS system to provide the access instead.

John Willinsky (Professor and Director of the Public Knowledge Project, University of British Columbia) outlined arguments for open access publishing and demonstrated an electronic journal publishing system. He divided his arguments for open access into noble and base reasons, and they included: 1) people have the right to know, 2) knowledge is only true if it is circulated, and 3) restricting access to authors' works restricts authors' rights and privileges. The publishing system he demonstrated (called open journal systems or OJS ) is open source software. It provide the means for editors to create an electronic journal, defined reviewers, receive submissions, track submissions, publish articles, distribute the articles' metadata via OAI, comment on articles in a public forum, and find similar articles through various Internet-accessible indexes such as ERIC.

Open access scholarly publishers

Jeff Boatright and Stephen Cristol (Molecular Vision), Ken Carter , Kitty McNeill , and Beth Haines (Journal of Cognitive Affective Learning), and Allen Tullos and Katherine Skinner (Southern Spaces) all described their various electronic journals. Molecular Vision has been around since in 1995 or so and has become one of the premiere titles in the molecular vision field. Since it was developed before the invention of XML, their mark-up is unique to their title. This may cause them problems in the future. The folks of the Journal of Cognitive Affective Learning use the publishing system described by Willinsky, above. Southern Spaces is a journal about the sub-regions of the American South. Their layout is very pretty. The most interesting thing about all of these titles is why they were created in the first place, namely to fill a particular communication niche. Each of these titles were new titles, titles created because there were no other scholarly titles able to accommodate the subject area. Their goal from the beginning was not necessarily open access but scholarly communication. Open access was simply seen as lesser expensive method for accomplishing their desired goals.

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Summary

The symposium was well worth my time, and I appreciate the opportunity to attend.

I came away from the symposium with a renewed understanding of open access. Like "open source software", open access is a new term for an idea that has been around for a while. In 1993 I participated in an ARL Collection Analysis Project at the North Carolina State University Libraries. Through this process I became acutely aware of the serials pricing crisis. It was also at that when an increasing number of electronic serials were being published. Some of the most prominent at the time were PACS Review , Postmodern Culture , and the Bryn Mawr Classical Review . These titles were intended to circumvent the traditional publishing processes and provide free, unfettered access to the content. (Over the years, to demonstrate that libraries can be a part of the solution, I created the Mr. Serials Process , Index Morganagus , and DOAJ Index .) What people saw in these new titles was electronic access. Commercial publishers picked up on the idea, created the Big Deals, and provided electronic access as well, but serial prices certainly did not go down. After ten more years of inflation, the prices are only now just beginning to make their effect known to scholars. The term "open access" is the result.

On one hand I am dismayed that there is not a whole lot of new things in the world "open access" since 1993. On the other hand, awareness has certainly increased and there are a number of new tools for facilitating open access. Open access awareness has increased so much that national governments are starting to take notice. At the same time, libraries must take action. We can not sit back and wait for decisions to be made for us. We are a part of the solution, and it behooves us to proactively seek ways to make open access a larger reality. This involves exploiting existing technology, supporting open access by collecting and indexing open access titles, and facilitating discussions with everybody involved.

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Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <eric_morgan@infomotions.com>
Source: This article was never formally published.
Date created: 2004-10-08
Date updated: 2004-12-01
Subject(s): travel log; Atlanta, GA; open access publishing;
URL: http://infomotions.com/musings/open-access-symposium/