Archive for September, 2006


Transitions: scholarly communications news for the UI community | September 2006

September 2006
Issue 1.06

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Transitions.

The purpose of this irregular electronic newsletter is to bring to readers’ attention some of the many new projects and developments affecting 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 6-8 issues per year of this newsletter. The current issue, covering recent events stretching back to the spring of 2006, is longer for that reason than we expect for the typical issue.

This newsletter aims to reflect the interests of its readers so please forward comments, suggestions and entries to include to Also, read the health sciences counterpart to Transitions: Hardin Scholarly Communication News.

Table of Contents

U of Iowa Provost Supports Federal Research Public Access Act

Rallying Behind Open Access

Google’s Big Book Scanning Project: Read up!

Introducing the Networked Scholar: Institute for the Future of the Book Launches MediaCommons

ACLS History eBook Project and Rutgers U. Press Introduce “Breakthrough” Ebooks

Academics Start Their Own Wikipedia For Media Studies

Retooled “Create Change” Web Resource Helps Faculty Fulfill the Promise of Digital Scholarship

Editorial board of Elsevier journal resigns in protest

Progress toward OA in art history

American Physical Society Expands Open Access Offerings

Three big publishers offer Open Access Options

Announcing the Launch of Chemistry Central

Digital University/Library Presses: Internet-First University Press

Turning Public Data into National Security Secrets

Scholarly Communication: Academic Values and Sustainable Models


U of Iowa Provost Supports Federal Research Public Access Act

University Support for Public Access Act Expands

Washington, DC – August 3, 2006 – Just one week after more than two dozen leading universities (including the University of Iowa) declared their strong support for the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S.2695), provosts from an additional 23 universities added their backing in a letter issued by the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) and in individual correspondence. This brings the total to at least 48 universities that have gone on record as favoring the measure.

The Federal Research Public Access Act was introduced on May 2, 2006 by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). It requires federal agencies that fund over $100 million in annual external research to make electronic manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles that stem from their research publicly available on the Internet. The U.S. government funds an estimated 50% of university research, making this a particularly important cause for the higher education community.

The GWLA letter reads, in part: “Access to publicly funded research facilitates the open discussion needed to accelerate research, share knowledge, improve treatment of diseases, and increase human understanding. [The Public Access Act] is a crucial step in realizing this goal…”

“With the passage of this bill, researchers across the United States will have access to the results of work supported by federal government funding, which will help advance scientific understanding at a faster rate,” said David Pershing, Senior Vice-President, Academic Affairs, University of Utah. “No longer will knowledge created using public funds be limited to the wealthiest institutions and corporations. With everyone having access to up-to-date information, I am confident we will see a higher level of scientific research and innovation. This is a remarkable opportunity for educators and students across the nation.”

Signatories of the GWLA letter include provosts and vice presidents for state and non land-grant institutions, such as the University of Washington and Rice University. Their names are added to those of another twenty-five institutions, including Harvard University and Arkansas State University, who on Friday jointly issued “An Open Letter to the Higher Education Community.”

“The time is ripe for this legislation,” added Rodney Erickson, Executive Vice President and Provost of The Pennsylvania State University, who signed the Open Letter. “Many of us in the academic community believe the process of making the findings of publicly supported research more widely available will stimulate further research and education, and that is our primary mission as universities.”

“GWLA member libraries and administrators support the Public Access Act in principle and in practice,” said Adrian Alexander, Executive Director of the Greater Western Library Alliance. “The implications for research stemming from this bill are widespread, profound, and utterly positive. We are pleased to add our voices in support.”

Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resource Coalition), added, “This groundswell of commitment from the provost community is a significant indication that the Federal Research Public Access Act has strong support in the higher education community in the United States.”

The GWLA letter, available online today, is at

The Open Letter to the Higher Education Community signed by twenty-five provosts and issued on July 28, 2006 is online at

The American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, Association of College & Research Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Greater Western Library Alliance, Medical Library Association, SPARC, and The Special Libraries Association encourage taxpayers and other stakeholders in the scientific process to add their support for this important legislation. Details are online at

SPARC News Release, Aug. 3, 2006


Rallying Behind Open Access

By Scott Jaschik, Inside HigherEd, July 28, 2006

If universities pay the salaries of researchers and provide them with labs, and the federal government provides those researchers with grants for their studies, why should those same universities feel they can’t afford to have access to research findings?

That’s part of the argument behind a push by some in Congress to make such findings widely available at no charge. The Federal Public Research Access Act would require federal agencies to publish their findings, online and free, within six months of their publication elsewhere. Proponents of the legislation, including many librarians and professors frustrated by skyrocketing journal prices, see such “open access” as entirely fair. But publishers — including many scholarly associations — have attacked the bill, warning that it could endanger research and kill off many journals.

In an attempt to refocus the debate, the provosts of 25 top universities are jointly releasing an open letter that strongly backs the bill and encourages higher education to prepare for a new way of disseminating research findings. “Widespread public dissemination levels the economic playing field for researchers outside of well-funded universities and research centers and creates more opportunities for innovation. Ease of access and discovery also encourages use by scholars outside traditional disciplinary communities, thus encouraging imaginative and productive scholarly convergence,” the provosts write.

While the letter acknowledges that the bill would force publishers and scholarly societies to consider potentially significant changes in their operations, the provosts conclude that the legislation “is good for education and good for research.”

The letter originated with the provosts of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which includes the universities of the Big Ten Conference plus the University of Chicago. Others joining the effort include the provosts of such institutions as Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Texas A&M University, the University of California, the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

“I think the provosts are concerned that our scientists are doing important research, and their fields demand that they publish the research in highly respected journals, and then those journals become more and more expensive and control information in a way that is worrisome,” said R. Michael Tanner, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs of the University of Illinois at Chicago and one of those who worked on the letter. When universities can’t afford to keep all of their subscriptions, universities face the prospect that their own faculty members can’t read the findings of fellow faculty members — even when taxpayers paid for the research.

To read the full article:


Google’s Big Book Scanning Project: Read up!

Search Me?
Google Wants to Digitize Every Book. Publishers Say Read the Fine Print First.

By Bob Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 13, 2006; Page D01

STANFORD, Calif. If it is really true that Google is going to digitize the roughly 9 million books in the libraries of Stanford University, then you can be sure that the folks who brought you the world’s most ambitious search engine will come, in due time, for call number E169 D3.

Google workers will pull Lillian Dean’s 1950 travelogue “This Is Our Land” — the story of one family’s “pleasant and soul-satisfying auto journey across our continent” — from a shelf in the second-floor stacks of the Cecil H. Green Library. They will place the slim blue volume on a book cart, wheel it into a Google truck backed up to the library’s loading dock and whisk it a few miles southeast to the Googleplex, the $100 billion-plus company’s sprawling, campuslike headquarters in Mountain View. There, at an undisclosed location, it will be scanned and added to the ever-expanding universe of digitally searchable knowledge.
Why undisclosed?

Because for one thing, in their race to assemble the greatest digital library the world has ever seen, Google’s engineers have developed sophisticated technology they’d prefer their competitors not see.

And for another, perhaps — though Google executives don’t say so directly — the library scanning program already has generated a little too much heat.

To read the full article:

U. of California System’s 100 Libraries Join Google’s Controversial Book-Scanning Project

The University of California system has joined Google’s controversial book-digitization project, and the partnership is expected to convert millions of books from the system’s 100 libraries — even volumes that are protected by copyright — into fully searchable electronic texts. Google officials say they plan to add even more academic libraries to the program in the near future.

The university system is the seventh major participant to join Google’s ambitious effort to add digital versions of books to its popular online search engine, and the first full partner to join since two groups of publishers sued to stop the company from scanning any books still covered by copyright.

“We’re comfortable that the activity is fully respectful of copyright law,” said Daniel Greenstein, executive director of the California Digital Library, a division of the university system.

Other participants in the Google project, which began in December 2004, include Harvard University, the New York Public Library, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oxford, in England. The Library of Congress is taking part in a pilot stage of the project as well.

Some publishers and authors are challenging the project because the company plans to scan not only books in the public domain but also those on which copyright has not run out. Google has defended the legality of the project, stressing that its search results will offer only short excerpts from copyrighted books unless longer excerpts are authorized by a book’s publisher. Publishers and authors argue that Google must obtain permission before scanning a copyrighted work.

To read the full article, go to: (accessible only to UI affiliates, or subscribers of the Chronicle of Higher Education)
Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 9, 2006

In Defense of Google’s Book-Scanning Project

“The nation’s colleges and universities should support Google’s controversial project to digitize great libraries and offer books online,” writes Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, in an editorial for The Washington Post. “It has the potential to do a lot of good for higher education in this country.” Google’s endeavor has drawn criticism from publishers, who have argued that the book-scanning project amounts to a violation of copyright law. But Mr. Ekman, who serves on the advisory boards of two university presses, argues that “those of us who are researchers and readers of books and articles ought to be disturbed by the loss of trust among publishers and libraries, which a decade ago embraced technological innovation and collaboration.” Mr. Ekman takes an optimistic view of the digitization project’s impact on scholarship:

Read theWashington Post article:
The Books Google Could Open

The Wired Campus, A service of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug.22, 2006

Scholarship and Academic Liraries (and their kin) in the World of Google

The prospect of ubiquitous digitization will not change the fundamental relationships among scholarship, academic libraries, and publication. Collaboration across time and space, which is a principal mechanism of scholarship, ought to be enhanced. Reforms in copyright law will be required if the promise of digitization is to be realized; absent such reform, there is a serious risk that much academically valuable material will become invisible and unused. Ubiquitous digitization will change radically the economics that have supported university–based collections of published material. Scholars and scholarly institutions (including libraries and university presses) must assert vigorously claims of fair use and openness.

To read the full article, go to:

by Paul N. Courant, First Monday, Volume 11, Number 8 — 7 August 2006


Introducing the Networked Scholar: Institute for the Future of the Book Launches MediaCommons

Along with the revived Rice University Press, which announced last week it would reboot as a digital press after a 10-year hiatus, the Institute for the Future of the Book (IF Book) last week launched MediaCommons a digital initiative in media studies that will seek to pioneer new forms of digital scholarly communication in the humanities. According to IF Book fellow Ben Vershbow, MediaCommons will go beyond editions of digital text to include a “wide-ranging scholarly network” in which media studies professionals can “write, publish, review, and discuss, in forms ranging from the blog to the monograph, from the purely textual to the multi-mediated, with all manner of degrees in between.” There are some similarities to electronic press initiatives, such as Rice UP, Vershbow notes, but also some key differences. “MediaCommons will really be a place more than a press,” Vershbow told the LJ Academic Newswire. The new edition of Rice UP, he observes, is moving to an all-digital model in order to make scholarly materials simultaneously more accessible and less expensive by taking advantage of the benefits of digital publishing. “But the way these materials are submitted, reviewed, and vetted is still quite conventional,” he explained. “MediaCommons, on the other hand, is much more about foregrounding that interaction.”

Vershbow says MediaCommons represents a “shift from thinking about an ‘electronic press’ to thinking about a ‘scholarly network,'” in an effort to reinvigorate intellectual discourse. MediaCommons seeks to address complaints common to scholarly communication: time-lags before publication, further delays in reviews or responses, a hidden peer-review system, and, of course, “increasing economic difficulties threatening many university presses and libraries.” Eventually, MediaCommons will seek to produce “concrete scholarly products,” Vershbow said. But more importantly, the project seeks to reform the process of scholarship. “This is why we are calling it a scholarly network and not a press,” he says. “In MediaCommons, a scholarly work does not have to wait for an invisible review process to conclude in order for its public life to begin. Rather it begins as soon as it submitted.”

The point, Vershbow says, is to make “visible the conversations between scholars and to forge new conversations with the public, and, moreover, to make the products of both conversations universally accessible, and fully plugged into the mutli-mediated, networked modes of contemporary intellectual life.” Why Media Studies for this initiative? Vershbow says there is a natural affinity between the field and the process of publication. “On the intellectual side, scholars in media studies explore the very tools that a network such as the one we’re proposing will use,” he explained. “We’re convinced that media studies scholars will need to lead the way in convincing tenure and promotion committees that new modes of publishing like this network are not simply valid but important. We hope that media studies will provide a key point of entry for a broader reshaping of publishing in the humanities.”

Library Journal Academic Newswire, July 27, 2006


ACLS History eBook Project and Rutgers U. Press Introduce “Breakthrough” Ebooks

Since its launch in 1999, the HEB has been making steady progress pioneering the digital future of the history monograph and, this week, American Council of Learned Society’s History E-Book Project (HEB) and Rutgers University Press (RUP) announced the “cooperative publication” of two innovative electronic titles that offer strong examples into the power of technology to expand traditional scholarly monographs. Through HEB, Rutgers has issued e-versions, compete with sound and video, of Fred Nadis’ Wonder Shows: Science, Religion, and Magic on the American Stage, and Krystyn Moon’s Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music, 1850s-1920s. HEB project directors Eileen Gardiner and Ron Musto said the books represent a “breakthrough,” and demonstrate how “a university press, working collaboratively can incorporate even the most robust electronic features into a standard and predictable workflow.”

That collaboration involved not only staff at Rutgers but also the Scholarly Publishing Office at the University of Michigan Library, which collaborated on the R&D for these titles. Of note, Nadis’ book incorporates several short films, while Moon’s uses a series of complete musical performances that accompany the sheet music and analysis. Both titles include standard HEB features such as complete cross-searchability, XML text and annotation, enhanced image handling, related historiography, and online reviews that create an interoperable network of scholarship and its analysis. “Readers can now experience our books with imaginative and captivating enhancements we once never thought possible,” said RUP director Marlie Wasserman. The History E-Book Project, which launched in September 2002, adds approximately 250 books annually to its collection. ACLS collaborates in this initiative with eight Learned Societies and nearly 75 university presses, funded initially by a $3-million, five-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional funding from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The Project achieved self-sustainability in the spring of 2005.

Library Journal Academic Newswire, July 27, 2006


Academics Start Their Own Wikipedia For Media Studies

Many academics have expressed skepticism, right here on Wired Campus blog, about the validity of Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. But some researchers are taking an approach more along the lines of: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

The Institute for the Future of the Book, a center supported by the University of Southern California, announced today that it will soon unveil an online scholarly press, of sorts, called MediaCommons, that will focus on the discipline of media studies. The announcement comes just days after Rice University unveiled the first all-digital university press.

MediaCommons will try a variety of new ideas to shake up scholarly publishing. One of them is essentially a mini-Wikipedia about aspects of the discipline. Or, as the announcement states, “electronic reference works, in which a community collectively produces, in a mode analogous to current wiki projects, authoritative resources for research in the field.”


By Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education: The Wired Campus, July 17, 2006


Retooled “Create Change” Web Resource Helps Faculty Fulfill The Promise of Digital Scholarship

Fully Revised Version of Popular Web Site Looks at Scholarly Information Sharing on the Internet

Washington, DC – SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and ARL (Association of Research Libraries), with support from ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries), today announced the re-launch of the Create Change Web site, a popular resource on scholarly communication issues. The site has been updated to provide faculty with current information, perspectives, and tools that will enable them to play an active role in advancing scholarly information exchange in the networked environment.

The new Create Change Web site ( is based around the idea that the ways faculty share and use academic research results are changing rapidly and irreversibly. By posing the question, “Shouldn’t the way we share research be as advanced as the Internet?” the site outlines how faster and wider sharing of journal articles, research data, simulations, syntheses, analyses, and other findings fuels the advance of knowledge. It also offers practical ways faculty can look out for their own interests as researchers.

“Access to research and scholarship is in the news; faculty deserve an up-to-date examination of how new policies and technologies can benefit them and their colleagues,” said Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director. “SPARC and ARL took a fresh look at our Create Change program, which has received so much positive feedback in the past, and redeveloped the Web site to reflect today’s needs and perspectives. Faculty will find it an invaluable tool for understanding the changing landscape of scholarly communication, and librarians will discover a uniquely useful means of introducing the topic to their faculty and administrators.”

“The redeveloped Create Change site is a timely new resource that focuses on exploring the potential for scholarly exchange in the ever-increasingly networked environment,” said Karla Hahn, Director of ARL’s Office of Scholarly Communication. “With change in scholarly communication systems continuing to happen at such a rapid pace, the site will be a key tool in engaging researchers and librarians around the fundamental issues.”

The Create Change Web site includes sections on digital scholarship and new modes of communication; examples of change in diverse fields; and ways to stay informed on new developments. It offers tailored guidance for researchers who play many roles in their professional lives – as researcher, author, reviewer, editor, editorial board member, society member, faculty member, or teacher. The site features selected news items; an ongoing series of interviews with scholars from different disciplines; and scores of links to other Web sites and resources.

SPARC News Release, June 22, 2006


Editorial Board of Elsevier Journal Resigns in Protest

Another journal declaration of independence is in progress. Yesterday the entire editorial board of Topology resigned to protest Elsevier’s refusal to lower the subscription price.

Excerpt from the letter:

Dear Mr [Robert] Ross [of Elsevier Science],

We regret to have to tell you that we, the Editorial Board of Topology, are resigning with effect from 31 December 2006.

As you are well aware, the Editors have been concerned about the price of Topology since Elsevier gained control of the journal in 1994. We believe that the price, in combination with Elsevier’s policies for pricing mathematics journals more generally, has had a significant and damaging effect on Topology’s reputation in the mathematical research community, and that this is likely to become increasingly serious and difficult, indeed impossible, to reverse in the future.

As you know, we have made efforts over the last five to ten years to negate this effect….

The journal Topology has an illustrious history with which we, on becoming editors, were extremely proud to be associated. It owd its foundation to the inspiration and vision of the great Oxford topologist JHC Whitehead in the late 1950s, and the Honorary Advisory Editorial Board and also our predecessors on the Editorial Board have included some of the greatest names in 20th century mathematics. We believe that the journal’s ethos and structure, based around a group of editors making editorial decisions jointly in Oxford with the expert assistance and advice of highly eminent editors elsewhere around the world, has many strengths and has provided a great service to the mathematical community in the past. However we feel that Elsevier’s policies toward the publication of mathematics research have undermined that legacy.

Therefore, with great reluctance and sadness, we have made the difficult decision to resign.

[signed] Martin Bridson, Ralph Cohen, Nigel Hitchin, Frances Kirwan, Marc Lackenby, Jean Lannes, Wolfgang Lück, John Roe, and Ulrike Tillmann.

Open Access News, Aug. 11, 2006


Progress Toward OA in Art History

Jennifer Howard, Picture Imperfect, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 4, 2006 (accessible only to UI affiliates and other subscribers).

If scholarly publishing had an endangered-species list, the art monograph would be at the top. At least that’s the perception of many art historians as they struggle to publish their work. “Between dwindling sales and the soaring costs of acquiring illustrations and the permission to publish them, this segment of the publishing industry has become so severely compromised that the art monograph is now seriously endangered and could very well outpace the silvery minnow in its rush to extinction,” writes Susan M. Bielstein in a recent call to arms, Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk About Art as Intellectual Property, published this spring by the University of Chicago Press.

As the press’s executive editor for art and architecture, Ms. Bielstein writes from the barricades. She knows that publishing art monographs costs a pretty penny. Art historians need high-quality illustrations to support their arguments, but in most cases, they must shell out for reproducible images, even of works in the public domain. And they, not their publishers, foot those bills. “It’s not unusual for a scholar working on the Renaissance to pay $10,000 or $15,000 to illustrate a book that may sell only 400 or 500 copies,” she says in an interview. Contemporary subjects still under copyright, and subject to an artist’s or estate’s whims, can prove to be an even costlier proposition….

Now two leading scholars [Mariët Westermann and Hilary M. Ballon] are poised to issue a major [Mellon-funded] report [“Art History and Its Publications in the Electronic Age”] on the state of art-history publication….[T]he two authors also see a developing resolve among scholars, publishers, and image providers to make art monographs easier and cheaper to illustrate and publish. They take heart, for instance, from a major proposal by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, to make images freely available to scholars….

[T]he most prominent recommendation in the draft report concerns permissions. All parties agree that it is harder than ever to navigate what Ms. Bielstein calls “the ecosystem of rights publishing.” What’s fair use? Should a museum be able to charge for a reproducible image of an out-of-copyright object in its collection? Most do. And as digital publication tempts more and more publishers and scholars, how will they protect images that appear in an electronic book or an electronic version of a journal article?

The report’s authors urge those in the field to “organize a campaign to break down barriers to access and distribution of images, in all media and at affordable prices, for scholarly research and publication.” (Ms. Bielstein’s book makes a similar exhortation.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has taken a revolutionary step toward that end with the “scholars’ license,” which it hopes to have in place by this fall. “We have responded to what scholars needed and wanted,” says Doralynn Pines, associate director for administration. “We are proposing, in certain areas, certainly for scholarly purposes, … that we permit people to use the images with no fee.” Under the old way of doing business, a one-time use of one transparency or digital image from the Met set a scholar back $135….

The Met’s scholars’ license may well turn out to be the crowbar that pries open the doors of other image repositories. “There have been a lot of eyebrows raised and a lot of interest” at other institutions,” Mr. Shulman reports. “I have no doubt that other leading museums are figuring out if they can do it or if they should.”

Ms. Bielstein says that “what the Met is doing is of inestimable value,” because the museum continues to be “a pacesetter for other museums on matters of policy and professional practice. Still, this is just the beginning. An enormous amount of effort and activism is needed to ensure that the public domain is open and accessible to everyone.”…

Open Access News, Aug. 9, 2006