About Author: Karen Fischer

Posts by Karen Fischer


Research Bought, Then Paid For – an Op-Ed in the New York Times

An Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, written by Michael Eisen (scientist and co-founder of Public Library of Science), decries a new bill that would cripple access to publicly-funded research currently made available by under NIH Public Access Policy.

Eisen writes,

The Research Works Act would forbid the N.I.H. to require, as it now does, that its grantees provide copies of the papers they publish in peer-reviewed journals to the library. If the bill passes, to read the results of federally funded research, most Americans would have to buy access to individual articles at a cost of $15 or $30 apiece. In other words, taxpayers who already paid for the research would have to pay again to read the results.

…Rather than rolling back public access, Congress should move to enshrine a simple principle in United States law: if taxpayers paid for it, they own it.

…But it is not just Congress that should act. For too long scientists, libraries and research institutions have supported the publishing status quo out of a combination of tradition and convenience. But the latest effort to overturn the N.I.H.’s public access policy should dispel any remaining illusions that commercial publishers are serving the interests of the scientific community and public.”

to read the complete article, go to:



Google Book Settlement Information

Google has been in the news a lot, particularly regarding the Authors Guild anti-trust suit against the HathiTrust and several affiliated universities who have worked with Google to scan books.  Below is a list of articles (compiled by Nicki Saylor), lending background information on the Google Book Settlement, and some insights into the developments of the Authors Guild suit.  Continuing developments on this topic will be address in our blog.

As a service to faculty, other campus authors, and interested members of the UI community we have gathered some information related to the Google book settlement.

Recent Developments

Judge Rejects Settlement in Google Book Case, Saying It Goes Too Far (March 2011)
The proposed settlement in the long-standing class-action lawsuit over Google’s vast book-scanning project is dead, at least in its current form. In a ruling on Tuesday, the federal judge overseeing the case rejected the settlement, saying that it “would simply go too far,” even though “the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many.” But he also urged the parties to consider revising the settlement, and suggested an approach that would deal with his major concerns.

Federal judge indicates he won’t rule today, as speakers argue for and against the revised settlement agreement (Feb. 18, 2010)
Eighteen parties spoke out against the revised Google Settlement before the lunch break today in a fairness hearing before U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Five spoke in favor. The speakers were limited to five minutes each, and generally either boiled down points made in previous submissions or responded to recently filed documents.

Hurtling Toward the Finish Line: Should the Google Books Settlement Be Approved? (Feb. 16, 2010)
Late last week, Google and the plaintiffs filed their final briefs in defense of the Google Books Amended Settlement Agreement (ASA) that is before the New York Southern Federal District Court. As the rhetoric around the Settlement heats up to white-hot intensity in the final days before the Fairness Hearing on February 18th, I’d like to offer a few personal thoughts from my vantage point at the California Digital Library.

The Google Book Settlement: Second Round Comments (Feb. 10, 2010)
Late last year, Google, the Author’s Guild, the American Association of Publishers, and the individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit over Google’s massive book digitization program negotiated several revisions to their original Proposed Settlement Agreement (original agreement). The revisions were designed to address concerns raised by the Department of Justice and other critics who advised the court to reject the original agreement.1 The deadline to file comments on the new Proposed Amended Settlement Agreement (amended agreement) was January 28, 2010. The Department of Justice filed its comments on Thursday, February 4, 2010. This document describes the second round of comments.

Justice Dept. Criticizes Latest Google Book Deal (Feb. 5, 2010)
In another blow to Google’s plan to create a giant digital library and bookstore, the Justice Department on Thursday said that a class-action settlement between the company and groups representing authors and publishers had significant legal problems, even after recent revisions.

Open access and the Google book settlement (Dec. 2, 2009)
Google and the groups suing it –the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers–released a revised version of their settlement agreement on November 13. Judge Denny Chin gave it preliminary approval six days later. …Many sharp eyes and sharp minds are looking at what the revised agreement says, how it differs from the original agreement of October 2008, how well it answers objections levelled against the original, and whether the preliminary approval ought to become final approval. I won’t do any of that here. I want to focus on the settlement’s implications for OA.

Judge Grants Preliminary Approval to Revised Google Book Settlement (Nov. 20, 2009)
The federal judge overseeing the Google Book Search case has given preliminary approval to the revised settlement submitted late last Friday by the parties to the lawsuit. The new version is “within the range of possible approval,” according to a court order issued yesterday.

Parties Submit New Proposal to Settle Google Book Search Litigation (Nov. 15, 2009)
Though they kept the world waiting until the last legal minute, the parties to the proposed Google Book Search settlement managed to meet their new November 13 deadline to file a revamped version with the federal judge overseeing the case. Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers submitted Settlement 2.0 close to midnight Eastern time on Friday. (Read more about the settlement on the Google Public Policy Blog.)

November 9 Is New Deadline for Revised Google Book Search Settlement (Oct. 7, 2009)
The parties to the Google Book Search settlement have agreed to deliver an amended agreement to the judge in the case by November 9, according to reports in The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and other media outlets.

Justice Department Wants Changes in Google Books Settlement (Sept. 21, 2009)
The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the proposed Google Book Search settlement with authors and publishers, advising the federal court overseeing the case that the deal in its current form “does not meet the legal standards this court must apply.”

At Congressional Hearing, Register of Copyrights Slams Google Settlement (Sep. 11, 2009)
At a Congressional hearing, Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights, U.S. Copyright Office, testified forcefully, warning that key parts of the settlement “are fundamentally at odds with the law,” creating a compulsory license for Google that should be the domain of Congress, not the courts.

CIC Provosts File Letter With Court in Google Settlement (Sep. 8, 2009)
The CIC has been a Google digitization partner since 2007. Under the terms of the partnership, Google will digitize up to ten million volumes across the CIC universities. The CIC has filed a letter with the federal court of New York overseeing the proposed Google Book Search settlement.

Library Associations Submit Supplemental Filing, Call for Increased Oversight of Google Agreement (Sep. 2, 2009)
The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) today submitted a supplemental filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York overseeing the proposed Google Book Search settlement to address developments that have occurred since the groups submitted their filing on May 4.

UC Academics Raise Major Concerns About Google Settlement (Aug. 20, 2009)
More than twenty University of California faculty members have written a letter to the court speaking on behalf of academic authors more interested in the public interest than in supporting themselves from their book revenues.

University of Michigan amends its agreement with Google (May 20, 2009)
The University of Michigan, one of the original participating libraries in the Google Book project, recently entered into an amended agreement that will govern the relationship between Google and Michigan if the proposed Google Book Search settlement is approved by the judge.

A Guide for the Perplexed Part III: The Amended Settlement Agreement (Nov. 30, 2009)
The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) released a series of guides to help librarians better understand the revised terms of the Google Book Search Settlement. The first release was A Guide for the Perplexed: Libraries and the Google Library Project Settlement. As a follow up, a second document, “A Guide for the Perplexed Part II: The Amended Google-Michigan Agreement,” provides a concise description of the Google-Michigan amended terms. The third outlines the amended settlement agreement


America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, and Further OA Legislation update

On January 4, President Obama signed into law the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (Public Law 111-358), a statute that many have kept an eye on as a possible indicator of legislative receptiveness to broader public access initiatives. However, the bill’s adoption may actually have the effect of checking the advance of more progressive open access legislation, at least in the immediate short term. FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act) expired with the last Congress, and must now be reintroduced for a third time since it was first put on the table by Senators John Cornyn and Joseph Lieberman in 2006.

Aside from assigning funding to agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the COMPETES Act also stipulates the creation of in interagency Public Access Committee that would explore the feasibility of a broader open access mandate, such as that proposed by the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA).

In terms of defining the research under consideration for public access, the COMPETES Act language somewhat mirrors that of FRPAA, which would govern the research output of any “Federal agency with an annual extramural research expenditure of over $100,000,000.”

Excerpts from Library Journal, Jan. 20, 2011. Read the full article at: http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/888910-264/as_competes_act_is_signed.html.csp


University of Iowa’s citation and publishing history

Garnering data from the Local Journal Utilization Report (LJUR) produced by Thomson Reuters (who extrapolates the data based on citations in the Web of Science database), we can see which journals are most often used by UI authors and which journals most often cite UI authors. Keep in mind that this data is confined by the limits of the universe of journals covered by Web of Science.

Cumulative data from the most recent three years (2008-2010) indicates the journals that most frequently cite UI authors (thus showing where UI researchers are having the most impact). The top 12 titles are:

Journal Title Total cites (2008-2010)

Of note is PLOS ONE, which is an open access journal.  In 2010 (the most recent available), PLOS ONE jumps to the top of the list with 1236 cites.

Data from the same three year period also shows which journals UI authors most often cite in their published articles (thus showing which journals have the most impact on UI authors).  The top ten are:


Interested in seeing more of the data?  Contact Karen Fischer (karen-fischer@uiowa.edu, 335-8781).


Transitions: scholarly communication news for the UI Community (May 2010)

May 2010
Issue 2.10

Welcome to the spring issue of Transitions.

The purpose of this irregular electronic newsletter is to bring to readers’ attention some of the many new projects and developments informing the current system of scholarly communication, with emphasis on new products and programs, the open access movement, and other alternative publishing models. Scholarly communication refers to the full range of formal and informal means by which scholars and researchers communicate, from email discussion lists to peer-reviewed publication. In general, authors are seeking to document and share new discoveries with their colleagues, while readers–researchers, students, librarians and others–want access to all the literature relevant to their work.

While the system of scholarly communication exists for the benefit of the world’s research and educational community and the public at large, it faces a multitude of challenges and is undergoing rapid change brought on by technology. To help interested members of the UI community keep up on these challenges and changes we plan to put out 4 issues per year of this newsletter.  Please visit our web site, Transforming Scholarly Communication, to find out more about this topic.

This newsletter is designed to reflect the interests of its readers so please forward comments, suggestions and entries to include to karen-fischer@uiowa.edu.

Read these articles in our May newsletter:

Federal Research Public Access Act: Updates and Commentaries

Open Access to Scientific Publications: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Opening the Doors to Research: Open Access is changing the way we learn about research

NYTimes OpEd on copyright: The End of History (Books)

Wikipedia Lets You Order Printed Books

Lessig: “For the Love of Culture: Google, Copyright, and Our Future”

Google Starts Grant Program for Scholars of Digitized Books

Peer review: What is it good for?

Publisher seeks patent related online peer review and publishing process

Commercial Publisher Financial Results

Open Science: some new developments

Harvard Business School approves open access policy

Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: report on faculty values and needs


Federal Research Public Access Act: Updates and Commentaries

Since the Federal Reseach Public Access Act has been recently come before the House of Representatives and the Senate, there has been a flurry of articles (for and against) the legistlation.

Federal Research Access Bill Making Progress in Congress,  Library Journal.com, 4/22/2010


Baby steps toward legislation: the broad open access mandate known as The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) is now before the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, following its introduction by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) last week. Both versions are substantially the same, and with the bill now before both legislative bodies, has at least the potential of becoming law.

During prepared remarks on a press conference call Wednesday morning hosted by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, Doyle said, “I hope that we can move this bill through Congress before the end of the year.”

. . . FRPAA was re-introduced into the Senate last year. It would require every federal department and agency with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more to make their research available to the public within six months of publication. (A similar bill, introduced in the Senate in 2006, died in committee.)

The bill covers all unclassified research funded by agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Transportation, Environmental Protection, as well as the National Science Foundation and NASA.

The bill also would ostensibly trump the current 12-month embargo specified by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandate—on which FRPAA is directly modeled—by rolling the embargo period back to six months.

SPARC FAQ for University Administrators and Faculty – SPARC has put together a helpful FAQ to answer the most pressing questions about FRPAA.

  1. What does the legislation entail?
  2. Who will be affected?
  3. What does the legislation mean for investigators?
  4. What does it mean for higher education institutions?
  5. Why is this legislation needed?
  6. Couldn’t agencies do this without legislative action?
  7. Is the legislation a threat to journals and the peer review they perform?
  8. Will the availability of multiple versions of an article create problems?
  9. Will this legislation take funding away from research?
  10. Does this legislation affect copyright or patent laws?
  11. How can I support the bill and where can I get more information about it?

Provosts and Presidents of 27 Major Research Institutions Support FRPAA – In “The Open Letter to the Higher Education Community” issued by the Harvard University Provost, the provosts (including UI’s Wallace Loh) and presidents of 27 major research institutions have indicated their strong support for the Federal Research Public Access Act.


The United States Congress will have the opportunity to consider the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). FRPAA would require Federal agencies whose extramural research budgets exceed $100 million to develop policies ensuring open, public access to the research supported by their grants or conducted by their employees. This Bill embodies core ideals shared by higher education, research institutions and their partners everywhere. The Bill builds upon the success of the first U.S. policy for public access to publicly funded research – implemented in 2008 through the National Institutes of Health – and mirrors the intent of campus-based policies for research access that are being adopted by a growing number of public and private institutions across the nation.

We believe that this legislation represents a watershed and provides an opportunity for the entire U.S. higher education and research community to draw upon their traditional partnerships and collaboratively realize the unquestionably good intentions of the Bill’s framers – broadening access to publicly funded research in order to accelerate the advancement of knowledge and maximize the related public good. By ensuring broad and diverse access to taxpayer-funded research the Bill also supports the intuitive and democratic principle that, with reasonable exceptions for issues of national security, the public ought to have access to the results of activities it funds.

The broad dissemination of the results of scholarly inquiry and discourse is essential for higher education to fulfill its long-standing commitment to the advancement and conveyance of knowledge. Indeed, it is mission critical. For the land-grant and publicly funded institutions among us, it addresses the complementary commitment to public service and public access that is included in our charters. In keeping with this mission, we agree with FRPAA’s basic premise that enabling the broadest possible access to new ideas resulting from government-funded research promotes progress, economic growth, and public welfare. Furthermore, we know that, when combined with public policy such as FRPAA proposes, the Internet and digital technology are powerful tools for removing access barriers and enabling new and creative uses of the results of research.

Letter Opposing FRPPA – The Association of American Publishers and the DC Principles Coalition released their April 29 letter to the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, opposing FRPAA.


On behalf of many publisher members of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers, the DC Principles Coalition, and other leading publishers, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the Federal Research Public Access Act, H.R. 5037. This bill would require that final manuscripts of peer-reviewed, private-sector journal articles reporting on federally-funded research be made freely available on government-run websites no later than six months after publication. This unnecessary legislation would undermine copyright and adversely impact the existing peer review system that ensures the high quality of scientific and other scholarly research in the United States. In addition, it would impose costly new mandates on federal agencies.

The diverse publishers whose concerns are shared by the undersigned are responsible for coordinating the publication of thousands of journals reporting on basic research and original scholarship, disseminating collectively tens of thousands of refereed research articles by U.S.-funded researchers annually. H.R. 5037 would diminish copyright protections for these private-sector scientific journal articles. The government mandate proposed by this legislation would result in the government distribution of copyrighted journal articles without compensation. Copyright is essential to protecting these works and to preserving incentives for the private sector to continue to invest in peer review, editing, publishing, and maintaining the electronic record of vetted scientific journal articles.

A Scholarly Kitchen Blog post, by Philip Davis, states:

While much is known about how researchers make use of the scientific literature, much less is known about the consumption of scientific literature by the general public.  Other than anecdotal descriptions — say, of patients bringing medical literature they found online into the doctor’s office — little is known about how the lay public uses the primary literature (e.g., scholarly journal articles) compared to public-focused websites, blogs, and discussion lists.

What is known is that Americans are going online seeking health information.

Read on at: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2010/04/22/frpaa-science-and-the-public-good/


Open Access to Scientific Publications: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Open Access to Scientific Publications: The good, the bad, and the ugly, Communications of the ACM , by Michel Beaudouin-Lafon:

The opening:

In his July 2009 Communications editor’s letter “Open, Closed, or Clopen Access?”, editor-in-chief Moshe Vardi addressed the question of open access to this magazine and to ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) publications in general. Scientific publishing, like all areas of publishing, is undergoing major changes. One reason is the advent of the Internet, which fosters new types of publishing models. Another less-known factor is the exponential increase in the number of scientific publications (see the figure here), which has turned this area into a serious business. In this column, I take a look at commercial and Open Access publishing, and at the role that professional societies such as ACM can play in this evolving world.

Excerpt from the conclusion:

Open Access is a valuable goal, but the scientific community is overly naive about the whole business of scientific publishing. Societies and nonprofit organizations need to continue to lead the way to improve the dissemination of research results, but the scientific community at large must support them against the business-centric views of commercial publishers.


Opening the Doors to Research: Open Access is changing the way we learn about research

Opening the Doors to Research: Open Access is changing the way we learn about research discoveries, University of Toronto Medicine, v. 5, issue 3, Feb 2010

Article starts on p. 15.


James Till, the University of Toronto Emeritus Professor of Medical Biophysics best known for demonstrating—with Ernest McCulloch, Emeritus Professor of Medicine—the existence of stem cells, is the type of high-profile researcher best served by the traditional system of peer-review publishing. Yet he is one of the strongest advocates for the alternative open access (OA) movement that is gaining momentum in the research world.

“In biomedical science, open resources like PubMed (a biomedical search engine from the U.S. National Library of Medicine) and GenBank (a collection of all the publicly available nucleotide sequences and their protein translations) have helped researchers to understand and appreciate the benefits of OA.
There has also been increasing recognition that OA has the potential to foster collaborations in multidisciplinary areas, including collaborations of the kind needed to accelerate the translation of new knowledge into innovative practical applications,”according to Till.

. . .Research carried out by U of T Professor Gunther Eysenbach (Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation and a senior scientist at the University Health Net¬work) found three main advantages to making medical research openly accessible: faster uptake within a discipline, measureable by citations; increased knowledge transfer to other disciplines; and increased information transfer to other end users who would not normally read scientific journals, including policy makers, physicians and patients. Many funding agencies worldwide have started to see these advantages, and are introducing policies that encourage open access to research results they have supported.


NYTimes OpEd on copyright: The End of History (Books)

From the New York Times, April 2, 2010

By March Aronson


Speaking as an author and editor of illustrated nonfiction, I agree that important change is afoot, but not in the way most people see it. In order for electronic books to live up to their billing, we have to fix a system that is broken: getting permission to use copyrighted material in new work. Either we change the way we deal with copyrights — or works of nonfiction in a multimedia world will become ever more dull and disappointing.

The hope of nonfiction is to connect readers to something outside the book: the past, a discovery, a social issue. To do this, authors need to draw on pre-existing words and images.

The full article is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/opinion/03aronson.html?emc=eta1


Wikipedia Lets You Order Printed Books

Wikipedia’s launching a new feature for English readers: The ability to create custom books from Wikipedia’s huge bank of free content. Because of the way Wikipedia’s images and copy are licensed, they’re free for anyone to access, use and share in this way.

PediaPress is a book publisher for wiki content; it’s in a long-term business relationship with Wikipedia (Wikipedia) to print these books. PediaPress now offers paperbacks and will soon add hardcover books to its catalog, as well.

The price of each book varies, depending on the number of pages; paperbacks start at $8.90. Users can also simply download a PDF of the “books” they create.

Read the article on Mashable and view an explanatory video at: http://mashable.com/2010/05/06/wikipedia-books/