New Open Access Repository for Unrefereed Preprints: PLoS Contents

A new openaccess repository for preprints on biomedical research findings prior to peer review — “PLoS Currents: Influenza” — is a welcome development, as are all services that provide free online access to research findings, before and after refereeing, in all fields. As long as the unrefereed/refereed distinction is prominently tagged, as it will be, it is always good to encourage researchers in all fields to make their drafts available for peer and public scrutiny as soon as they feel ready to do so.

It would, however, make more sense for central repositories like PLoS Currents to harvest their contents from the researchers’ own institutional repositories, rather than to try to serve only as yet another locus for direct central deposit. Researchers’ institutions are the universal providers of all research output, in all fields, and central repositories should be facilitating universal self-archiving and self-archiving mandates, rather than competing with them. That said, self-archiving mandates [i.e., institutional and funder policies requiring OA deposit] can and should be applied only to refereed postprints, not to unrefereed preprints, whose self-archiving must be left a matter of author choice.

I’m not sure, though, that is it quite accurate to describe me, in 1999, as having been “[o]ne of the fiercest critics of the proposal”!

I greeted the e-biomed proposal as an “extremely welcome and important initiative… deserving of the strongest support” and went on [as is my wont] to make some “recommendations… in the interests of strengthening the proposal by clarifying some crucial central aspects and modifying or eliminating some minor, weaker aspects.”

Among those recommendations was that of making and retaining a clear distinction between between (1) peer-reviewed journal publishing (now called “Gold OA“) and author self-archiving (now called “Green OA”), as well as a distinction between (2) unrefereed drafts (“preprints“) and refereed, published articles (“postprints”). Each of these crucial distinctions was conflated in the original 1999 e-biomed proposal, and it is good to see them de-conflated 10 years later.

The fundamental dichotomy between unrefereed drafts and refereed articles predates Open Access, PLoS, e-biomed, Arxiv, the Web and the Net.

What has changed is that it can now all be done at a global scale, far more rapidly, far more interactively, and by a means that is freely accessible to everyone.

Harnad, S. (1990) Scholarly Skywriting and the Prepublication Continuum of Scientific Inquiry. Psychological Science 1: 342 – 343 (reprinted in Current Contents 45: 9-13, November 11 1991). ABSTRACT: Scientific publication is a continuum, from unrefereed preprints to refereed reprints, to revisions, commentaries, and replies. All this is optimally done electronically, as “Scholarly Skywriting.”

___ (1992) Interactive Publication: Extending American Physical Society’s Discipline-Specific Model for Electronic Publishing. Serials Review, Special Issue on Economics Models for Electronic Publishing, pp. 58 – 61.

___ (1995) Interactive Cognition: Exploring the Potential of Electronic Quote/Commenting. In: B. Gorayska & J.L. Mey (Eds.) Cognitive Technology: In Search of a Humane Interface. Elsevier. Pp. 397-414.

___ (1996) Implementing Peer Review on the Net: Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals. In: Peek, R. & Newby, G. (Eds.) Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. Pp 103-118.

___ (1997) Learned Inquiry and the Net: The Role of Peer Review, Peer Commentary and Copyright. Learned Publishing 11(4) 283-292.

___ (1998/2000/2004) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature [online] (5 Nov. 1998), Exploit Interactive 5 (2000): and in Shatz, B. (2004) (ed.) Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry. Rowland & Littlefield. Pp. 235-242.

___ (2003/2004) Back to the Oral Tradition Through Skywriting at the Speed of Thought. Interdisciplines. Retour a la tradition orale: écrire dans le ciel a la vitesse de la pensée. Dans: Salaün, Jean-Michel & Vendendorpe, Christian (dir). Le défis de la publication sur le web: hyperlectures, cybertextes et méta-éditions. Presses de l’enssib.

___ (2002) BBS Valedictory Editorial.

Shadbolt, N., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2006) The Open Research Web: A Preview of the Optimal and the Inevitable, in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects. Chandos.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

New OA policy at Copenhagen Business School

Copenhagen Business School has adopted an OA policy. From a June 2009 memo forward by Leif Hansen to the SPARC-OAForum list:

… CBS and the faculty at CBS are committed to disseminating the results of its research and scholarship as widely as possible.

To fulfill that commitment CBS is adopting an Open access policy that provide[s] open access to full-text versions of all scholarly papers and articles written by its faculty. …

As a consequence of this policy CBS faculty shall routinely grant to CBS a [limited, non-exclusive] license to place in a non-commercial openaccess online repository (OpenArchive@CBS) the faculty member’s scholarly work published in a scholarly journal or conference proceedings. …

In the event a faculty member is required to assign all or a part of his or her copyright rights in such scholarly work to a publisher as part of a publication agreement, the faculty member shall retain in the publication agreement the right to grant the foregoing license to CBS.

Faculty may opt out of this policy for any specific work or invoke a specified delay before such work appears in an openaccess repository in accordance with the opt-out mechanism set forth below. …

CBS is committed to providing the necessary technical, organizational and non-material support that will help the open access policy to be implemented in the best way. …

The [actual] archiving of the individual document is done by the library as part of the process of research registration, where the library will contact the researchers to get a full text version of the articles. …

The faculty is encouraged to choose the best possible publication channel for their research results in terms of readership, but they are required to demand that publishers grant them the right to further use of their own work in teaching, collaboration with fellow scholars and open access depositing. …

If an embargo is required by the publishing house an embargo period of up to one year may be respected. …

The articles not archived [via the opt-out] must be registered in OpenArchive@CBS with bibliographical information, a short [abstract] and information about publication channel. …

See also our past posts on Copenhagen Business School.

New OA mandate from BC, Canada health funder

Jim Till, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research adopts an OA mandate, Be openly accessible or be obscure, August 22, 2009.

On July 6, 2009, the Board of Directors of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), adopted an Open Access to Research Outputs Policy. The MSFHR is the provincial support agency for health research in British Columbia (BC, Canada) and is funded by the Government of BC. A pivotal paragraph of the policy statement is also available at Managing Your Award (from the MSFHR):

All MSFHR Award Recipients who receive an award or an award renewal after July 7, 2009 must ensure that all final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from research supported by that award (in whole or in part) are made freely accessible through either the Publisher’s website or an online repository within six months of publication.

Other excerpts from the policy statement:

Additionally, Award Recipients are now required to deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data, as already required by most journals, into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results. …

Compliance will be monitored through annual reporting requirements. Non-compliance to this policy may result in the termination of the award. …

Costs related to the publication of research outputs are considered eligible expenses as defined in the Eligible Expenses section under each Program area on the MSFHR website. … In the event that Award Recipients encounter additional publications costs than the amount budgeted in the original application, they may approach MSFHR for supplemental funding to cover publication costs. …

New round of funding for Encyclopedia of Life

Sam Wong, Encyclopedia of Life to gather every species into a digital Noah’s Ark, The Guardian, August 23, 2009.

When the American sociobiologist E. O. Wilson was awarded the TED Prize in 2007, he was given the opportunity to make a wish. His wish was that someone would fund and create a freely accessible online database of every known species, to give scientists “the tools that we need to inspire preservation of Earth’s biodiversity”.

Within two months, Wilson’s vision of a digital Noah’s Ark won financial backing to the tune of $12.5 million from the MacArthur Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and today the Encyclopedia of Life is a reality. Text, images and videos can be uploaded by anyone who’s interested, and content is vetted by expert curators.

The inventory has grown more quickly than anyone expected. To date, there are pages for more than 150,000 species, with contributions from 250 specialists and 1,200 “citizen scientists”. …

By 2017, the site aims to have collated information on all 1.8 million recorded species. To help the project push on towards this goal, the founding sponsors today announced a further $12.5 million in funding. …