In an agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) Elsevier recently agreed to allow researchers there to text-mine Elsevier content for a number of purposes. The agreement came about through the efforts of Heather A. Pinowar, a post-doc at UBC whose “work depends on text mining, using computers to automatically pull certain kinds of information from large amounts of text, including databases of journal articles.” See details in Jennifer Howard’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Open Data Category
The ninth Berlin Open Access Conference, and the first to be held in the US, concluded last week in Bethesda, Md. See http://www.berlin9.org/ for details on the program. The Conference follows on the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, “issued in 2003 by international research, scientific, and cultural institutions, to promote the Internet as a medium for disseminating global knowledge.”
Some interesting quotes from the meeting from Jen Howard’s coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
“One or two people in this room will die in the next five years because of research that didn’t make its way to clinics fast enough,” one presenter, Cameron Neylon, told the crowd. Mr. Neylon, a biophysicist, is a senior scientist at Britain’s Science and Technology Facilities Council. He spoke at a session on how open access can create new opportunities for business as well as for scholarship. “This is not about ideology anymore,” it’s about creating the best, most efficient mechanisms for getting research to those who need it, he said.
“To me this is a design challenge,” said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University. In an ideal world, knowledge would be as evenly distributed as sunlight, he said, recommending that universities need to be redesigned so they don’t work on exclusivity.
Dr. David Rosenthal, engineer and co-creater of LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) recently spoke on the topic of Open Access at the University of British Columbia.
He choseto look at five audiences where OA may have an effect: general public, researchers, libraries, publishers, and software developers. He discusses his thoughts on peer-review or in his opinion bad peer-reviewing and whether or not open access increases or decreases bad research publishing; the creation of the big deal journal bundling by publishers to fight off the cost decrease due to the transition to Web publishing and lack of library initiative to fight off the big deals; and how the increase of OA data versus OA articles might be more beneficial for researchers. Essentially, he believes a combination of reducing publication costs, finding new technology driven publishing models, less restrictions on intellectual property and publishing of better quality articles may be the issues that face the future of research and that OA may just be a way to work on those real issues.
The full transcript of this talk can be found on his blog: http://blog.dshr.org/2011/10/what-problems-does-open-access-solve.html.
There have been several interesting articles of late on open science.
Scientists Embrace Openness, by Chelsea Wald, Science, April 9, 2010
History is replete with stories of scientists who hid their ideas from their competition; consider Leonardo da Vinci, whose odd backward writing may have been partly motivated by fear of thieves, or Isaac Newton, who concealed one idea by writing it in the form of an anagram. Science has long been a dog-eat-dog world.
So it may seem odd that a handful of scientists are going to similar lengths to share not just their results but also, sometimes, their raw data — even their lab notebooks — often in real time. They’re part of a movement called Open Science, or, more specifically, Open Notebook Science, whose motto is “no insider information.”
At first glance, going “open” would seem like a serious career risk — years of work could be for nothing if a competitor uses your work to beat you to publication — but many practitioners of openness say the benefits outweigh those risks. The benefits include increased opportunities for collaboration, more feedback from colleagues, and a greater likelihood that the research will get to the people who can use it. Counterintuitively, practitioners say that being open supports their claims of priority and relieves their anxiety about getting ripped off.
Open science: policy implications for the evolving phenomenon of user-led scientific innovation, by Victoria Stodden, Journal of Science Communication, volume 09, 2010, Issue 01, March 2010.
From contributions of astronomy data and DNA sequences to disease treatment research, scientific activity by non-scientists is a real and emergent phenomenon, and raising policy questions. This involvement in science can be understood as an issue of access to publications, code, and data that facilitates public engagement in the research process, thus appropriate policy to support the associated welfare enhancing benefits is essential. Current legal barriers to citizen participation can be alleviated by scientists’ use of the “Reproducible Research Standard,” thus making the literature, data, and code associated with scientific results accessible. The enterprise of science is undergoing deep and fundamental changes, particularly in how scientists obtain results and share their work: the promise of open research dissemination held by the Internet is gradually being fulfilled by scientists. Contributions to science from beyond the ivory tower are forcing a rethinking of traditional models of knowledge generation, evaluation, and communication. The notion of a scientific “peer” is blurred with the advent of lay contributions to science raising questions regarding the concepts of peer-review and recognition. New collaborative models are emerging around both open scientific software and the generation of scientific discoveries that bear a similarity to open innovation models in other settings. Public engagement in science can be understood as an issue of access to knowledge for public involvement in the research process, facilitated by appropriate policy to support the welfare enhancing benefits deriving from citizen-science.
My Data, Your Data, Our Data, by Amy Dockser Marcus, Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2010
Declan Butler, Publish in Wikipedia or Perish, Nature News, Dec. 18, 2008
Journal to require authors to post in the free online encyclopaedia.
Wikipedia, meet RNA. Anyone submitting to a section of the journalRNA Biology will, in the future, be required to also submit a Wikipedia page that summarizes the work. The journal will then peer review the page before publishing it in Wikipedia.
The initiative is a collaboration between the journal and the RNA family database (Rfam) consortium led by the UK Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton. “The novelty is that for the first time it creates a link between Wikipedia and traditional journal publishing, with its peer-review element,” says Alex Bateman, who co-heads the Rfam database. The aim, Bateman says, is to boost the quality of the scientific content on Wikipedia while using the entries to update the Sanger database.
…The goal is to encourage more scientists who work on RNA to get involved in creating and updating public data on RNA families, while being rewarded by the traditional method of a citable publication, says Sean Eddy, a computational biologist at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, and a co-author of the nematode article.
Lawrence Liang, Free/Open Source Software, Open Content, United Nations Development Programme, 2007. Under a CC-BY license. Excerpt:
…The Open Content model of knowledge creation and dissemination has emerged as a significant way in which we can move beyond the barriers of restrictive licensing. At the same time, it enables us to rethink our relationship to the world of knowledge and cultural production. Inspired by the Free Software movement, Open Content seeks to move away from the traditional user/producer binary in favour of a more participative process of knowledge creation and usage.
This e-Primer introduces the idea of Open Content by locating it within the larger historical context of copyright’s relation to the public domain. It examines the foundational premises of copyright and argues that a number of these premises have to be tested on the basis of the public interest that they purport to serve. It then looks at the ways in which content owners are increasingly using copyright as a tool to create monopolies, and how an alternative paradigm like Open Content can facilitate a democratization of knowledge and culture….
The argument of this e-Primer will be that policy makers across the world, and particularly in developing countries, should take note of the advantages of the Open Content paradigm as a way of overcoming barriers which restrict access to information, knowledge and culture. There are also significant economic advantages for developing countries which shall be detailed, for instance in relation to the cost of learning materials….
We…use the phrase ‘Open Content’ to primarily refer to content that provides the greatest freedom (the right to modify), since other kinds of content which do not provide the right to modify may actually be covered by the Open Access movement….
Some of the key areas for policy makers to consider include:
* Open Content policy to enable access to publicly funded research;
* Access to primary material such as research data;
* Financial, technological and other support for Open Access and Content repositories; and
* Support for publications based on Open Content resources….
It is also important to note that the problem does not merely lie with government policies but also with educational institutions, which are supported – either in full or in part – by public funding….In other words, there is a serious and urgent need for all public institutions to examine the public availability of the knowledge that they produce, and the most effective strategies for further dissemination. For the reasons already outlined in this e-Primer, it would make immense sense for them to start moving towards an Open Content/Open Access paradigm….
Organized by the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, U.S.A., Pleiades brings together a global community of scholars, students and enthusiasts to expand and enhance continually the information originally brought together by the Classical Atlas Project (1988-2000) to support the publication of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (R.J.A. Talbert, ed., Princeton, 2000). Pleiades is an international research network and associated web portal and content management system (CMS) devoted to the study of ancient geography.
Last month they released the first batch of their data, and what a great job they’re doing. The material is impeccably laid out, in particular:
* They’ve ensured there’s a proper open license on each collection of material (in this case a CC Attribution license)
* They’ve made the material available in bulk as well as through a search facility
More information about the datasets available as well as links can be found on the Pleiades site. This really is a perfect example of what an open knowledge project can be and so a big well done to the pleiades team for the work so far (and long may it continue!).
Open Access News, Nov. 15, 2007