Birkbeck to play leading role in project to transform open access academic publishing — Birkbeck, University of London

“Birkbeck, University of London is to play a leading role in the transformation of the academic book-publishing environment, thanks to over two million pounds worth of funding from Research England.

The Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) project partners Birkbeck with Coventry University, who led on the bid, Lancaster University, the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Library, Loughborough University Library, and Trinity College, Cambridge, as well as forging external links with ScholarLed (Mattering Press, meson press, Open Book Publishers, Open Humanities Press, punctum books), Jisc Collections, The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), The British Library, and The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC).

The project will put in place the currently missing but requisite infrastructures, business models, governance procedures, re-use strategies, preservation structures, and outreach programmes for the proposed mandate for open access books in the anticipated Third Research Excellence Framework. Birkbeck, in particular, will be seeking to work with external publishing partners to transform their business models….”

Open Science essential for new Horizon Europe funding programme – SPARC Europe

“SPARC Europe is pleased with the endorsement, on April 17, by the European Parliament (EP) of the Political Partial Agreement on Horizon Europe, the next research and innovation framework programme. Back in March 2019, the EP and Council of the European Union had reached a provisional agreement as part of the trilogue process. That agreement was approved by the Council on April 15. With that vote, European legislators demonstrated that they stand “behind the idea to keep the EU at the forefront of global research and innovation,” said Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, in an online statement. This agreement sends a strong signal about the importance of science and innovation for the future of Europe and shows Europe’s potential to lead in the promotion of Open Science and Open Access policies.”

Text of Digital Library Futures keynote (Cambridge, 21st May 2019) | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

There is a short story by the famous Argentine author, Jorge Luis Borges, of a civilization possessed of a holy book. The book must, at all costs, be protected and preserved for the future. It is encased within a dark and mighty sarcophagus to ensure its safety from quote “humidity, heat, damp, cold, ice, fire, wind, rain, snow, sleet, prying fingers, hard stares, the gnawing of rats, sonic disintegration, the dribbling of infants, and the population at large” end quote. The special caste of custodians in the story – a kind of priesthood of knowledge – are confident that they can protect the book; especially from this last and most damaging group, the population at large. Indeed, as time goes by and greater swathes of this growingly democratic population request access to the book, the priesthood formulate ever-more contrived rationales for the protection of the artefact. The intrinsic value of the book, to use a term from the report that forms the basis of today’s symposium, seems, in the story, to be increased by its scarcity of access, even as its instrumental value to society grows lesser by the day. For even the priesthood do not really know or understand the contents of the book that they guard. They have only the peripheral metadata context within which to work: the sacredness of the artefact, but also the sacredness of the notion of preservation. As preservation becomes an end in itself for the priesthood, the barbarian populace eventually overwhelm the fortification and prise open the sacred sarcophagus. The story draws to a close as the lay tribes examine the holy book, over the corpses of the priesthood, to find that it is written in a language and script that is completely indecipherable and that has been lost to time; as meaning has eroded over the span of artefactual preservation.

Borges, of course, never actually wrote such a story. But he could have and it did sound vaguely plausible as a transparent allegory of the phenomenon under discussion today. Namely: what is the tension between, and the resolution of, preservation and access for non-print legal deposit? How is it that we have come to a situation where the path-dependence of print has so thoroughly conditioned the access possibilities for the digital that its most salient property – that of non-rivalrous dissemination – must be once more made rivalrous and discarded? And what of the structures of meaning that themselves naturally erode over time, like an entropic process, in the digital space? How, without some form of continuous access, can we ensure that we can still read our digitally preserved heritage over even a decadal timespan?…

But the 909 articles published or supported solely by the platform that I run, the Open Library of Humanities, in its first year accumulated 118,686 unique views. That is, this tiny number of open access articles were viewed by more people than a UK national-level pilot giving on-site access to vast quantities of subscription material across all disciplines over almost double the same time period. This kind of study is most often used to show that “very few people want to read this material, so why should an industry reconfigure its economics to accommodate such changes?” I think that our platform shows exactly the opposite, though. For this is where my interests in open access coincide with issues of user-centric thinking about non-print legal deposit. In a world where we can demonstrate by example that there is an audience for even the most abstruse types of humanities scholarship, it is becoming increasingly problematic to separate preservation from any kind of distributed networked access….”

Welcome to the Archives Unleashed Project

“Archives Unleashed aims to make petabytes of historical internet content accessible to scholars and others interested in researching the recent past. Supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are developing web archive search and data analysis tools to enable scholars, librarians and archivists to access, share, and investigate recent history since the early days of the World Wide Web….”

All of PLOS : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

This zip file contains JATS-standard XML content of every PLOS article, including all Articles and Front Matter. It does not include Figures or Supplemental Data. It’s just under five GB in size, and is updated every day with new articles. We also make our articles available through PubMed Central and our API….”

What the Chemical Industry Didn’t Want You to Know

Tucked away in an Oregon barn for decades was a collection of internal documents, correspondence, and chemical safety studies detailing the lengths the chemical industry took to conceal the dangers of their products.  

The documents in this collection—dubbed the “Poison Papers”—allege fraudulent chemical safety testing, corporate concealment of chemical dangers, and collusion between the industry and the regulators who were supposed to be protecting the public and environment. Commonly used herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate), dicamba, atrazine, and 2,4-D feature prominently among the papers, as do nearly every large chemical corporation. 

Now, thanks to the combined efforts of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and the Bioscience Resource Project (BRP), this collection is available online for the first time….

The Poison Papers are the digitization of about three tons of files from litigation against Monsanto, litigation involving some of the Dow Chemicals products, open records requests, and Freedom of Information Act requests to the federal government as well as state agencies. It represents documents that were discovered over the past 40 years but some of the documents, including scientific studies, are older than that because they are from litigation….”

Taking knowledge preservation to the next level: new partnership between, Addgene, PLOS

Digital information carries a significant risk of disappearing, as one of the “fathers of the Internet” Vint Cerf has been

. This is particularly problematic for research communication as vanishing records undermine the reproducibility and integrity of science. We have taken this concern seriously at from day one, constantly aiming for better ways to ensure stability, preservation, and visibility of the methods and knowledge shared on our platform. Digital archiving solutions have been the center of our focus; however, today we are excited to share with you our new physical preservation initiative, guaranteeing zero loss, long into the future. We are thrilled to be joined by the Addgene plasmid repository and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in this initiative.

Of course, for many years we at have had public APIs and PDF export of all protocols. In 2016, we became a

of CLOCKSS (the digital preservation archive for scholarly content, started by Stanford librarians in 1999), sending a PDF copy of every new protocol to them, the second it is made public. More recently, we introduced integration with Dropbox and GoogleDrive, to facilitate individual backups.

While all of our efforts are reasonable and ensure preservation and accessibility for decades, they are not infallible solutions in the long run. This is because preservation and accessibility are not the same thing. How many people today can open a file from 1997 WordPerfect or 1999 PowerPoint, particularly if it has been saved on a floppy disk? How confident are we that PDFs of protocols will be accessible and readable in seventy years by the scientists of the future?
With the above concerns in mind, we have been exploring over the last year more reliable solutions that take advantage of modern technology. And so, we are excited to announce a partnership with


for low-cost physical preservation of protocols, using laser cutters. The PLOS editorial team will be in charge of selecting protocols that warrant physical preservation and Addgene, with their expertise in physical storage, will be handling the long-term archiving in their freezers….”


A nine dimensional framework for digital cultural heritage organizational sustainability | A content analysis of the LIS literature (2000–2015) | Online Information Review | Vol 43, No 2

“Other sustainability promoting characteristics of technology or technology practices named in articles included: customizability, openness, sharing, seamless interfaces and services, common database systems, central clearinghouses for technical information, and use of sustainable formats….”

‘I can understand anger against publishers’ | Research Information

“I presently see a lot of anger against the big publishers, and think this anger is the biggest challenge right now. Scientists are the publishers’ main customers, and they’re very dissatisfied with what is going on. There are repeated calls to boycott this or that publisher, which I find somewhat ridiculous because publishers are doing a lot of things that scientists normally don’t acknowledge. For example, the whole issue of data storage and indexing and retrieval. This is a lot of work, and scientists seem to think it just comes from nowhere.

Some scientists are trying to do their own things, and in most cases I don’t think that’s particularly useful. I’m a theoretical physicist, so in my area almost all of the papers are on the arXiv. There are now a few arXiv overlay journals that basically use the data that is stored already on the arXiv, and that means they don’t have to worry about how to store the data, and how to make sure that it will remain accessible for the forseeable future. But we’re doing science here that we hope will still be used in 100 to 300 years’ time, and someone has to think about how to make sure that this data will remain accessible. …”