Archive for December, 2006


Anthropology Steering Committee Endorses FRPAA, Rebukes Leadership

The AnthroSource Steering Committee (ASSC) has publicly released its August 9 letter in support of FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act), dissenting from the position taken by its parent organization, the American Anthropological Association (AAA).

Excerpt from the letter:
To: Alan Goodman, President, American Anthropological Association
Deborah Heath, Chair, AAA Committee on Scientific Communication (CSC)
Fr: Suzanne Calpestri, Chair AnthroSource Steering Committee (ASSC)
Re: AAA and Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA)
Cc: Bill Davis, Executive Director, American Anthropological Association
Jasper Simons, Dir. of Publications, American Anthropological Association
AnthroSource Steering Committee listserv

I am writing at the suggestion of Deborah Heath who has indicated that it would be useful to have a statement clarifying the views of the AnthroSource Steering Committee regarding FRPAA ( to which the AAA staff expressed opposition by signing a letter from the American Association of Publishers (AAP). ( Subsequently the AAA staff prepared a FAQ (link to FAQ ) explaining their opposition to the legislation. The Steering Committee’s views on the legislation itself and the substantive issues raised in the AAP letter and the AAA staff FAQ follow.

In early May 2006 The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA) was introduced into the U. S. Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). This legislation would require that federally funded research appearing in peer-reviewed journals be made openly accessible in digital repositories (either centralized subject-based or institutional repositories) within six months of publication. The legislation does not affect copyright and specifically excludes from deposit research notes, source data and preliminary analyses, classified or revenue-producing research and rejected manuscripts or manuscripts that were not submitted to a journal.

Why ASSC supports FRPAA
The ASSC stands in strong support of FRPAA because this legislation provides strategic infrastructure and impetus for achieving AnthroSource’s (and the AAA’s) mission regarding “increase[d] visibility of and access to anthropological knowledge.” In addition, by removing barriers to access, FRPAA enables the “development of global communities of interest based on anthropological knowledge.”

Of foremost importance, this legislation provides scholars increased access to the research of others so that they can build on that work and achieve greater understanding and better outcomes. Included among those who gain the most are those working outside major research institutions (for example, those working in small to medium size institutions, practicing anthropologists, and those working in developing countries). Other significant beneficiaries of interest to anthropologists are the communities of people in whose midst and with whose assent and help anthropologists conduct their studies.

Read the letter in its entirety:


Co-Founder of Wikipedia Starts Spinoff With Academic Editors

By Brock Read, Chronicle of Higher Education

Can scholars build a better version of Wikipedia? Larry Sanger, a co-founder who has since become a critic of the open-source encyclopedia, intends to find out. This week Mr. Sanger announced the creation of the Citizendium, an online, interactive encyclopedia that will be open to public contributors but guided by academic editors. The site aims to give academics more authorial control — and a less combative environment — than they find on Wikipedia, which affords all users the same editing privileges, whether they have any proven expertise or not. The Citizendium, whose name is derived from “citizen’s compendium,” will soon start a six-week pilot project to determine many of its basic rules and operating procedures.

Mr. Sanger left Wikipedia at the end of 2002 because he felt it was too easy on vandals and too hard on scholars. There is a lot to like about Wikipedia, he said, starting with the site’s open-source ethics and its commitment to “radical collaboration.” But in operation, he said, Wikipedia has flaws — like its openness to anonymous contributors and its rough-and-tumble editing process — that have driven scholars away. With his new venture, Mr. Sanger hopes to bring those professors back into the fold.

He plans to create for the site a “representative democracy,” in which self-appointed experts will oversee the editing and shaping of articles. Any Web surfer, regardless of his or her credentials, will be able to contribute to the Citizendium. But scholars with”the qualifications typically needed for a tenure-track academic position” will act as editors, he said, authorizing changes in articles and approving entries they deem to be trustworthy.

A team of “constables” — administrators who must be more than 25 years old and hold at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the project’s Web site — will enforce the editors’ dictates. “If an editor says the article on Descartes should put his biography before his philosophy, and someone changes that order, a constable comes in and changes it back,” said Mr. Sanger.

Read more at Chronicle of Higher Education 10/18/06


What is Open Data?

Open Data is a philosophy and practice requiring that certain data are freely available to everyone, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. It has a similar ethos to a number of other “Open” movements and communities such as Open Source and Open Access. However these are not logically linked and many combinations of practice are found. The practice and ideology itself is well established (for example in the Mertonian tradition of science) but the term “Open Data” itself is recent. Much of the emphasis in this entry is on data from scientific research. There is not yet a consistent formalisation of Open Data and this article uses recent publications and activities to define it.

To read the Wikipedia entry in it’s entirety:

written by:
Peter Murray-Rust
Unilever Centre for Molecular Sciences Informatics University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK


Survey on Academic Publishing

Phil Cadigan has posted the results of a survey he announced on the American Scientist Open Access Forum and LibLicense.

5. Briefly defined, ‘Open Access’ is a term for published material that is available to readers at no cost. (Please check all that apply.)
83% I am familiar with the concept of ‘Open Access’ as it applies to scholarly publishing.
27% I have been invited to participate in open access processes.
29% I have participated in open access processes.

6. Please choose the answer that best describes your attitude to the following statement: “I support ‘Open Access’ as a model for publishing in my area of specialization.”
56% Strongly Agree
21% Agree
19% Neither Agree Nor Disagree
0% Disagree
4% Strongly Disagree

Open Access News, Posted by Peter Suber at 10/03/2006 10:50:15 PM.


Publishers Criticize Professors for Copyright Violations

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) is calling on colleges and universities to take steps to address what they see as rampant copyright abuse by faculty. According to the AAP, faculty who post protected content online for use in their courses cost the publishing industry at least $20 million each year in lost revenues. Before the advent of online reserves, faculty would often place hard-copy materials in the library for students to view. That practice has been largely replaced by making digital copies of course materials available online. The publishing industry objects, saying faculty who do this go beyond the scope of fair use. Allan Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs with AAP, said, “We can’t compete with free.” The organization pointed to a recent agreement with Cornell University in which the institution works to educate faculty on appropriate uses of copyrighted material and on best practices to avoid infringing uses.

The AAP hopes that other institutions will implement programs similar to the one Cornell has adopted.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 20 November 2006

Edupage, EDUCAUSE Listserve, Nov 27, 2006