Date: Thu, 03 Nov 2005 15:09:42 -0500
From: Ray English
Subject: Bioline letter to Lord Sainsbury
To: ACRL Scholarly Communication T.F.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville
House of Lords
October 30th, 2005
Dear Lord Sainsbury,
I have read the comments you made in the ‘UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE to be published as HC 490-I, House of Commons, before the Science and Technology Committee’ , October 19th, 2005, and wish to make a few points relating to Open Access Archiving (Institutional Repositories).
You will know that the ground-breaking proposals of the Budapest Open Access Initiative proposed two routes towards achieving universal access to the world’s publicly funded research findings: open access publishing and open access archiving. I note that the BioMedCentral team have responded with corrections regarding the progress and quality of OA publishing, based on evidence that shows daily increases in the number of OA journals now operating. With these statements I concur, since the Directory of Open Access Journals (see below) provides ample evidence of progress in this direction.
Regarding Open Access Archiving, I think you may not be fully informed that this relates to the archiving in interoperable archives of already published papers (as well as other institutional material of value to the international scientific community such as pre-prints, theses, teaching material etc). Some 93% of publishers questioned have agreed to OA archiving of their published material (see the ROMEO database, below), with varying degrees of time-embargoes. Their decision is clearly based on the evidence from the physics discipline where the major physics journals have existed in partnership with the arXive archive for over 10 years and have reported no decline in subscriptions, and in one case are assisting in the mirroring of the archive. Recently, as you will be aware, the RCUK group have unanimously proposed OA archiving, as have the Wellcome Trust, the House of Commons S&T Committee and a growing number of independent universities and countries. The list below shows some of the major statements already publicised and you will see that there is a truly international concensus on the value of this development.
Publishers (both commercial and non-profit) are arguing that their profitability will be impaired if OA Archiving continues, but their worries are not based on evidence (which shows the contrary) but on speculation. I am of the generation that can well recall the doom-laden predictions for the music industry when discos began playing recorded music (the music industry has flourished and benefited), when email began (the postal services still operate successfully), or when television first began to develop (theatres and the film industry continue unabated), so it seems that the S&T publishing industry will continue to play a valuable role as in the past, and the more enlightened will adapt and flourish in partnership with the academic community.
If the RCUK proposals are adopted this will put the UK at the forefront of international communication, using the unprecedented power of the Internet to share research findings as widely as possible. I must declare an interest in the success of these proposals since I work with colleagues around the world to support access to and inclusion in the open access movement for the benefit of all scientists from developing countries who have greatly restricted access to essential research information. The development of OA archives provides an unprecedented opportunity to support research globally (which in turn leads to the steady alleviation of poverty and the growing independence of poorer countries). This becomes increasingly urgent in view of the current problems that have a global dimension AIDS, avian influenza, climate change, environmental disasters where local knowledge and its progress are important for all humanity. All that matters is that research findings are shared as widely as possible, making the greatest impact on scientific progress. The development of open access institutional archives is a low cost, practical tool to bring this about, in parallel with open access journals. The RCUK proposals are indeed enlightened and I and colleagues around the world much hope that they will be agreed and implemented, putting British research in a highly visible and influential position in international research and supporting research in less advantaged regions.
Cc Philip Willis, Chair House of Commons S&T Committee
Open Access Policy statements
Budapest Open Archives Initiative (Soros Foundation), two recommended strategies to achieve open access to scholarly journal literature, February 14th 2002:
Wellcome Trust Statement in support of Open Access: Published in October 2003: http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD002766.html, operating from October 2005
Berlin Declaration on the Open Access to knowledge in science and the humanities: October 2003, a Declaration signed by over 50 major institutions, universities, funding organisations and other interested bodies committed to open access to scholarly publications. February 2005:
CERN confirms its commitment to Open Access, March 2005:
WSIS Declaration of Principles:
The Case for Institutional Repositories: A SPARC Position Paper, July 2002 - prepared by Raym Crow:
Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing: the outcome of a meeting of research organisations to agree on steps to be taken to support the transition to open access publishing:
Scotland declaration in support of Open Access: 20 institutions in Scotland have already signed the October 2004 Declaration:
Finland has made a nation-wide commitment to Open Access by partnership with BioMedCentral:
Public Library of Science, Statement signed by just under 30,000 individuals from 175 countries who support the concept of open access:
U K Government Science & Technology Committee recommendations on science publishing:
Salvador Declaration on Open Access
University of Southampton to make all its academic and scientific research output freely available
Universities of Netherlands set up repositories
Cornell University endorses and adopts resolution on Open Access
Case Western University draft resolution on open access
University of Namibia sets up Institutional Archive and defines Open Access policy:
Bioline International eprints server: makes available all papers on an OA basis from over 40 journals published in developing countries
Registries of OA developments
OpenDOAR: University of Nottingham, UK and University of Lund, Sweden: A service to list Open Access research archives. Such repositories have mushroomed over the last 2 years in response to calls by scholars and researchers worldwide to provide open access to research information.
Register of Open Access Archives: shows numbers and kinds of records in nearly 500 registered archives http://archives.eprints.org/
Directory of Open Access Journals: lists 1718 OA journals; 76,565 articles.
Publisher Copyright Policies and Self-Archiving