Digital Archimedes manuscript released libre OA

The Walters Art Museum, host of the Archimedes Palimpsest — a manuscript of treatises by Archimedes of Syracuse — posted its digital images of the manuscript online on October 29, 2008. The images and supplementary information are OA and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. See also the announcement. (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)

Comment. It’s fuzzy whether the scans are copyrightable anyway (see Bridgeman v. Corel). But it’s a good gesture regardless.

Costs of limiting PubMed searches to Free Full Text

Mary M. Krieger, Randy R. Richter, and Tricia M. Austin, An exploratory analysis of PubMed’s free full-text limit on citation retrieval for clinical questions, Journal of the Medical Library Association, October 2008.  Abstract:  

Objective:  The research sought to determine (1) how use of the PubMed free full-text (FFT) limit affects citation retrieval and (2) how use of the FFT limit impacts the types of articles and levels of evidence retrieved.

Methods:  Four clinical questions based on a research agenda for physical therapy were searched in PubMed both with and without the use of the FFT limit. Retrieved citations were examined for relevancy to each question. Abstracts of relevant citations were reviewed to determine the types of articles and levels of evidence. Descriptive analysis was used to compare the total number of citations, number of relevant citations, types of articles, and levels of evidence both with and without the use of the FFT limit.

Results:  Across all 4 questions, the FFT limit reduced the number of citations to 11.1% of the total number of citations retrieved without the FFT limit. Additionally, high-quality evidence such as systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials were missed when the FFT limit was used.

Conclusions:  Health sciences librarians play a key role in educating users about the potential impact the FFT limit has on the number of citations, types of articles, and levels of evidence retrieved.

Comment.  In short, work for OA but don’t assume that all valuable literature is already OA. 

OA journal launches repository for article-related datasets

The Optical Society of America has launched a repository to host datasets associated with articles published in its journals, including the OA journal Optics Express. OSA is calling the initiative “Interactive Science Publishing” (“ISP”). See this email from M. Scott Dineen:

The Optical Society has just started to use a DSpace-based system to host datasets associated with peer-reviewed journal articles. The OSA “MIDAS” system was launched with the help of [the National Library of Medicine] and Kitware, Inc., on a DSpace platform. Our first articles with datasets were published earlier this month with 3D image data (TIFF stacks, RAW, DICOM, and similar formats). …

Our first special issue of Optics Express with associated datasets is available here.

See also the September 30, 2008 press release announcing OSA’s partnership with NLM. From the press release:

… The joint OSA/NLM pilot ISP project will publish three to four focus issues in OSA journals in 2008 and 2009 with articles that include large datasets as primary components. The articles will be open access, as will tools for viewing and analyzing the datasets. The articles and data will be published in OSA’s journals, but will also be deposited in PubMed Central, NIH’s free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.

See also the project’s wiki.


  • There are two parts here: MIDAS, the DSpace-based repository software, and the OSA ISP software, used for viewing the files downloaded from MIDAS.
    • MIDAS is based on FOSS, including DSpace, but based on Kitware’s product page, there doesn’t seem to be any plan to release MIDAS as open source. (DSpace’s license doesn’t have a copyleft clause that compels derivative software to be free.)
    • OSA’s ISP software, which is only available for Windows and Mac OS, doesn’t seem to be open source, either. In fact, the gratis version offers only limited functionality; from the FAQ:

      Access to full OSA ISP authoring functionality is freely available for 30 days following activation. After 30 days, the software reverts to reader mode. In reader mode, one can interactively view data associated with OSA ISP articles but cannot load other data or use the authoring tools.

      However, the FAQ also says it’s not necessary to use OSA’s ISP software:

      We recommend use of the free OSA ISP software for viewing ISP image datasets. … However, the source data as provided by the author is available in the MIDAS repository and can be loaded into any capable software application. …

  • As to the data themselves, here are the terms of use:

    … You may use the datasets for research purposes, provided that Author(s) are given proper credit as the source of the data, in a manner consistent with generally accepted scientific principles. …

Update. See also Kitware’s press release on the ISP software.

PALINET launches digitization initiative

PALINET, a regional library network in the U.S., launched a digitization project on October 21, 2008. See the press release or this story in Library Journal:

… [T]he PALINET regional library network recently announced its Mass Digitization Collaborative, supported in part by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Through the project, PALINET member libraries will be able to scan and digitize selected texts as the result of an ongoing partnership with the Internet Archive and its regional network of digitization centers.

Participants will receive high-quality versions of the digital editions, which will also be made freely available through The goal, according to Catherine C. Wilt, PALINET’s executive director, is to make available more than “20 million pages of text from PALINET members,” equivalent to approximately 60,000 books.

Only works free of copyright restrictions and with existing metadata are eligible for the project. Moreover, member institutions are “strongly encouraged” to select unique texts and items of local and regional significance. …

Presentation on U. Calgary’s OA fund

Andrew Waller, Open Access and the Open Access Authors Fund, presentation at the University of Calgary, October 28, 2008. Abstract:

This presentation covers some of the basic elements of Open Access and briefly discusses the recently-established Open Access Authors Fund at the University of Calgary. Presented to faculty members and graduate students of the Faculty of Law, October 28, 2008.

EDUCAUSE launches interest group on openness

Colleen Luckett, EDUCAUSE Involvement Opportunity: New Openness Constituent Group, EDUCAUSE blog, October 9, 2008.

EDUCAUSE has launched the new Openness Constituent Group, which focuses on the emergence and adoption of open technologies, practices, policies, and initiatives, and how they affect the delivery and support of education. …

From the group’s description:

From critical IT services to educational content, distributed models based on openness are challenging higher education’s traditional approaches. The Openness Constituent Group focuses on the emergence and adoption of open technologies, practices, policies, and initiatives, and how they affect the delivery and support of education. Topics include but are not limited to free and open source software, open content, open educational resources, open courseware, open standards, and management practices such as open business and enterprise 2.0.

This group meets at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference and uses the electronic discussion list to discuss issues throughout the year. …

On CC and collecting societies

Catherine Saez, Improbable Match: Open Licences And Collecting Societies In Europe, Intellectual Property Watch, October 28, 2008.

… French authors still cannot put their work under free licences, such as Creative Commons, for non-commercial use while being members of [French collecting society] Sacem, they said. Some European collecting societies are trying to find a compromise. …

French authors give their exclusive rights to Sacem, including on non-commercial use. “We have discussed for years with Sacem without any luck, but our colleagues in the Netherlands and in Denmark are working with [the Dutch and Danish collecting societies] Buma Stemra and Koda to try to achieve an effective compatibility between Creative Commons and collective management,” [Mélanie Dulong of Creative Commons France] said.

In the United States, collecting societies do not have exclusive rights on the works of authors, so the compatibility problem does not arise, she added. …

See also our past posts on collecting societies.