Archive for January, 2014

Open Access to digitised books
Norway’s National Library is embarking on a large-scale digitisation project: all the materials held in the Library will be digitised and, where possible, made available online for free.
The project, which began in 2006 and is expected to last 20 to 30 years, supports the country’s vision to gather, preserve and disseminate its cultural heritage. This includes every book authored by a Norwegian author. The aim is to make the books highly visible, easily accessible, and stored in a format that ensures their preservation in the longer term.
The real breakthrough here is that whole books are being made freely available online, at least to Norwegian people.  While materials not protected by copyright are available to anyone in the world, agreements with publishers are also sought to make copyrighted materials available to anyone with a Norwegian IP address. Moreover, the entire digital collection is available on the Library premises.
 In this, Norway is well ahead of other countries. For example, the British Library, although active in a number of digitisation and preservation initiatives – including a partnership with Google to digitise 250,000 books from the 18th and 19th century – has so far been too constrained by UK copyright law to expand its digitisation plans. With forthcoming changes in digital copyright law, however, there may be more freedom to copy copyrighted materials for preservation and and for private, non-commercial use on the Library premises. Crucially, the long-due law reforms will include audiovisual materials, strongly welcomed by the British Library CEO, Roly Keating.
Legislation constraints and controversy over creators’ rights mean we may still be a long way from initiatives like Norway’s. The Google digitisation project, which so far provides access to excerpts from over 20 million digitised books, has been under attack for years for violating authors’ rights and allowing access to materials that extends beyond ‘fair use’. The Google project was recently declared legal in the States, although authors are appealing the decision.  Progress in open access still relies on finding the balance between innovations that facilitate and enrich research and scholarship, and rules that protect the rights of the creators. 

U. S. spending bill includes open access legislation

The recently approved U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, soon expected to be signed into law, includes a brief section on open access. In particular, federal agencies with research and development expenditures exceeding $100 million a year are required to develop public access policies that provide a “machine-readable version of the author’s final peer-reviewed manuscripts that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.” This version must be publicly available within 12 months from publication; ‘compliance with all relevant copyright laws’ is also required.

Although the Act does not entirely remove barriers to access – the 12-month embargo and vague reference to copyright compliance do not support timely access – this mandate is encouraging, notably in endorsing the author’s version as acceptable. This leaves room for the Green option and formally supports the use of the accepted manuscript.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2014/01/17/spending-bill-includes-open-access-legislation#ixzz2reNwTZPD


Read Full Post »

Africa: MSF Pioneers Opening Up Access to Humanitarian Data


Médecins Sans Frontières (“Doctors without Borders”: A French humanitarian-aid organization) are planning to make the data collected by its research and clinical staff freely available online. MSF say this is the first time a medical humanitarian organisation has made its research open access in this manner. This exciting development could lead to two way benefits. Researchers from a range of countries will be able to learn from the first hand data and pioneering work that the MSF conducts, which will include ‘Records of HIV treatment and care, treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis and human African trypanosomiasis, and a database of nutritional surveys.’ While from their own point of view the MSF staff will be able to use outside research on their data for health benefits for the communities they work with.

UCL presses ahead with open access


In exciting news the University College London plans to start using their repository as a publishing platform. UCL Press, previously licensed to commercial publishers, is now a department within the institution’s Library Services. Significantly the UCL Press will also publish open access monographs. The initiative aims to find new methods that will ensure the sustainability of monographs for future researchers. Paul Ayris, the Library Director of UCL, discusses the origin of this idea and the impact it may have on publishers and monographs in the linked article.

The Top 20

Thanks to our ability to track the origin of user requests for Surrey papers from the SRI Open Access Repository we are able to identify the amount of downloads from individual countries. The top 3 countries (U.K, U.S.A and China) are quite predictable however the further down the list you go the more interesting reading it becomes. As part of the news blog we are going to look at which countries are in the top 20 and pick out a particular Open Access story that concerns this country. This week our news blog focuses on South Africa, currently ranking 20th in terms of requests from SRI, with 12,701 downloads (14/01/14). It is of course very encouraging to see South African researchers so interested in the work of Surrey Academics. The following article and attached interview illustrates both the differences of Open Access in South Africa but also the shared hope in the outcomes that Open Access may deliver.

Michelle Willmers on the state of Open Access: Where are we, what still needs to be done?


This article is from Richar Poynder’s blog, which is dedicated to “observing and reporting on the evolution of the Open Access (OA) movement”. The article has both a commentary on the unique role of Open Access in Africa as well as a Q and A with Michelle Willmers. . Project Manager of the OpenUCT Initiative at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. The blog and interview make very interesting reading, commenting on the politics of South African Universities with regards to Open Access, the Green/Gold debate in a South African context as well as the difference in teaching/research ratio compared to a typical academic in the U.K.

Read Full Post »