OA to government statistics

Siu-Ming Tam, Informing The Nation – Open Access To Statistical Information In Australia, March 18, 2009.  A presentation at the UNECE Work Session on the Communication and Dissemination of Statistics (Warsaw, May 13-15, 2009).  (Thanks to Anne Fitzgerald.)  Excerpt:

…3. In 2005, the Australian Government released cost recovery guidelines…[requiring] fees and charges set by Government agencies to reflect the costs of producing and providing the products and services….

5. In…June 2005 the [Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)] sought and obtained additional funding from the Australian Government for free access to ABS publications on its website. In December 2005, the Minister made the announcement, in an event to mark the centenary for the establishment of the ABS, that as a centenary tribute to the people of Australia, all ABS statistical output on the web site would be made free of charge.

6. The recent advent of Web 2.0 technologies increases the potential to use, share and ‘mix and match’ ABS data sets to add value to ABS information. ‘Mash ups’ are an excellent example of how the value of a product may be significantly enhanced by including different layers of information with statistical information. To facilitate this, and other innovative uses of ABS data, the ABS needs to have an internationally recognised licensing framework for accessing, using and reusing its statistical information.

7. In December 2008, ABS introduced Creative Commons licensing by adopting the Attribution 2.5 Australia licence for its materials contained in the ABS website.” …

Also see Marc Debusschere, Dissemination Policies in the ESS, from the proceedings of the same conference.  Excerpt:

…27. The results of the survey show that all countries have well-established practices for disseminating statistical data, which for the larger part are disseminated for free; the most common exceptions are tailor-made data sets, microdata and paper publications….

29. …[A] single policy document which coherently spells out dissemination principles is still absent in many countries. Specific dissemination conditions and procedures can, as a rule, be found on an ad hoc basis in many different places, but not bundled together in one place, on the web site or in a document.

30. The overview shows very markedly that policies, some times implicit ones, are quite similar across the [European Statistical system (ESS)]. The summary of current principles and practices of [National Statistical Institutes] could constitute a first outline of a basic ‘Dissemination Policy Charter’ for the European Statistical System:

  • Statistical data and metadata are disseminated free of charge for all users, with few or even no exceptions.
  • All users can obtain custom-made data extractions at no more than production cost or even for free.
  • Use, re-use and redistribution of statistical data and metadata are allowed on two conditions only: respect for the integrity of data and mention of the source.
  • Microdata are available free of charge for all eligible users providing sufficient guarantees, especially on the respect of confidentiality….

New OA publisher

PAGEPress is an apparently new publisher of OA journals in biomedicine.  It’s based in Italy, a brand of MeditGroup.

The PP journals charge a publication fee, which for 2009 is 500 Euros/article.  However, PP explains that "the ability of authors to pay publication charges will never be a consideration in the decision as to whether to publish."

PP says its uses CC-BY licenses.  But when it spells out what it means, it describes a CC-BY-NC license and links to one.  However, the sample article I looked at used a CC-BY license.

The site lists 17 journals in medicine and biology.  When I clicked through on each one, I found that 8 were operational, with published content (most still on their inaugural issue), and 9 were still on the drawing boards.

No OA impact advantage seen in ophthalmology

V.C. Lansingh and M.J. Carter, Does Open Access in Ophthalmology Affect How Articles are Subsequently Cited in Research? Ophthalmology, June 20, 2009.  The article doesn’t yet appear at the journal site, so I’ve linked to the abstract in PubMed.  Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the concept of open access affects how articles are cited in the field of ophthalmology.

DESIGN: Type of meta-analysis.

PARTICIPANTS: Examination of 480 articles in ophthalmology in the experimental protocol and 415 articles in the control protocol.

METHODS: Four subject areas were chosen to search the ophthalmology literature in the PubMed database using the terms "cataract," "diabetic retinopathy," "glaucoma," and "refractive errors." Searching started in December of 2003 and worked back in time to the beginning of the year. The number of subsequent citations for equal numbers of both open access (OA) and closed access (CA) (by subscription) articles was quantified using the Scopus database and Google search engine. Number of authors, article type, country/region in which the article was published, language, and funding data were also collected for each article. A control protocol was also carried out to ascertain that the sampling method was not systematically biased by matching 6 ophthalmology journals (3 OA, 3 CA) using their impact factors, and employing the same search methodology to sample OA and CA articles.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of citations.

RESULTS: The total number of citations was significantly higher for open access articles compared to closed access articles for Scopus (mean 15.2 versus 11.5, P < .0005, Mann-Whitney U = 20029, and Google (mean 6.4 versus 4.0, P < .0005, Mann-Whitney U = 21281). However, univariate general linear model (GLM) analysis showed that access was not a significant factor that explained the citation data. Author number, country/region of publication, subject area, language, and funding were the variables that had the most effect and were statistically significant. Control protocol results showed no significant difference between open and closed access articles in regard to number of citations found by Scopus: open access: mean = 17.8; SD (standard deviation) = 23.70; closed access: mean = 19.1; SD = 20.31; Mann-Whitney test, P = 0.730, Mann-Whitney U = 20584.

CONCLUSIONS: Unlike other fields of science, open access thus far has not affected how ophthalmology articles are cited in the literature.

OA mandate at the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance

The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance has strengthened its OA policy from a request to a requirement.  (Thanks to Jim Till.)

From the old policy (adopted April 2007):

CBCRA requests that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants.  CBCRA requests that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants. These articles will be posted on the CBCRA Open Access Archive as soon as possible after publication. A publisher’s embargo period of up to six months will be permitted….

From the new policy (revised April 2009):

CBCRA requires that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants, to be posted in the CBCRA Open Access Archive, as soon as possible after publication. A publisher’s embargo period of up to six months will be permitted….


  • In addition to the new language mandating deposit in the OA repository, the new policy encourages grantees to retain the right to authorize OA through the repository.  Kudos to all involved.
  • Also see my post from October 2007 calling for precisely this change, and my other past posts on the CBCRA.

Swords and plowshares: harvesting online knowledge

Mark Rutherford, Reading machine to snoop on Web, CNet News, June 27, 2009.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

What if the wisdom of Web could be yours, without having to read through it one page at a time? That’s what the military wants.

DARPA has hired a company to develop a reading machine to reduce the gap between the ever increasing mountain of digitized text and the intelligence community’s insatiable appetite for data input.

BBN Technologies was awarded the $29.7 million contract to develop a universal text engine capable of capturing knowledge from written matter and rendering it into a format that artificial intelligence systems (AI) and human analysts can work with. (PDF)

The military will use the Machine Reading Program, as it’s officially called, to automatically monitor the technological and political activities of nation states and transnational organizations –which could mean everything from al-Qaeda to the U.N….

BBN also expects the program to enable a plethora of new civilian applications, everything from intelligent bots to personal tutors. The system could provide unprecedented access and automated analysis of the world’s libraries, allowing for vastly expanded cultural awareness and historical research….

BBN already offers a broadcast monitoring system that automatically transcribes real-time audio stream and translates it into English, creating a continuously updated, searchable archive of international television broadcasts….

Update.  Also see our past posts on open source intelligence.

Version 1.0 of the Open Database License

The Open Data Commons has released version 1.0 of the Open Database License (ODbL).  From today’s announcement:

The Open Database License (ODbL) is an open license for data and databases which includes explicit attribution and share-alike requirements.

This license, the first of its kind, is a major step forward for open data. There are currently very few licenses available suited to data and databases and none which provide for share-alike (existing share-alike licenses such as the GPL, GFDL and CC By-SA are all unsuitable for data).

The development of the ODbL, has been a major effort extending over more than one and half years with an intensive consultation and review period for the last 6 months. We’d like to express our thanks to the communities and individuals who have contributed during this time.

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Open Database License –and our past posts on the Science Commons alternative (Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data), which favors the unrestricted public domain over open licenses for data.