On July 29 the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) unanimously passed S. 779, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act by voice vote. The bill, which calls for public access to taxpayer-funded research, was marked up to bring it into line with the existing White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) policy memorandum and current National institutes of Health (NIH) policy, and will now move to the full Senate for consideration.
On April 30 the academic publishing company Elsevier announced that it would be updating its article sharing policies. In a post on its website titled Unleashing the power of academic sharing, Elsevier’s director of access and policy Alicia Wise outlined a framework of new sharing and hosting policies, which include guidelines for sharing academic articles at every stage of their existence, from preprint to post-publication, and protocol for both non-commercial—that is, repository—and commercial hosting platforms.
The University of Minnesota Press and the GC Digital Scholarship Lab at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) in April were awarded a $732,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch Manifold Scholarship, a new platform that will enable the publication of iterative, networked, electronic versions of scholarly monographs alongside the print edition of the book.
The Open Access Network (OAN), a project set to establish a business model for OA in the humanities and social sciences, was the topic of a key session at “Knowledge Made Public,” a May 5 conference held at the City University of New York (CUNY) Academic Commons. The session featured a presentation by K|N Consultants principals Rebecca Kennison and Lisa Norberg, who were joined by Martin Burke and Jessie Daniels of the CUNY Graduate Center, and Ken Wissoker, editorial director at Duke University Press, for a lively and informative discussion of OAN, K|N’s newest initiative, which will launch in mid-May.
Like the ground in the Ring of Fire that surrounds the Pacific Ocean, the serials world is in almost constant motion, responding simultaneously to pressures both large and small. As in seismology, some of the pressures result in incremental changes, while others, often the result of years of incremental change hidden below the surface, seem suddenly to shake the serials world like an earthquake.
Over 650 attendees from 42 states and five countries gathered for this year’s ER&L conference, with hundreds more viewing more than 60 hours of livestreamed and archived sessions online. This year’s conference also included a new, two-day “Designing for Digital” user experience (UX) event, which ER&L plans to make a regular component of the conference going forward. As usual, the days were packed with panels and presentations on e-resources, with topics ranging from organizational strategies and working with vendors to sessions on troubleshooting and technical maintenance. Here are highlights from some of the sessions that LJ was able to attend.
As part of a wider emphasis on digital publishing and the relevance of humanities scholarship, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are giving new life to out-of-print humanities books. In January the two organizations announced a new joint pilot grant program, Humanities Open Book, which will help publishers identify important out-of-print works, secure rights to them, and convert them to EPUB format ebooks freely accessible under a Creative Commons (CC) license. Awards range from $50,000 to $100,000 per recipient, and will cover a period of one to three years.
Recently I attended the conference of a major learned society in the humanities. I was only there for a day, and attended only two sessions: one as a panelist and the other as an observer. Both sessions dealt with issues related to Open Access (OA), and in both of them I was deeply taken aback by the degree to which the scholars in attendance—not universally, but by an overwhelming majority—expressed frustration and even outright anger at the OA community. The word “predatory” was actually used at one point—not in reference to rapacious publishers, but to OA advocates. That was pretty shocking.
In what at first looked to be a decisive move in the direction of open access (OA), Nature Publishing Group announced December 2 that it would officially adopt two initiatives that would provide access to articles previously available exclusively by subscription. But the new features come with restrictions that many see as a nod to OA in name only, and Nature News quickly corrected its initial headline, which read “Nature Makes All Articles Free to View”—but not before it was picked up by a number of news and social media outlets.
California has become the first state to mandate open access for the products of some taxpayer-funded research. On September 29 Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act, coauthored by Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R–Palm Desert) and Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D–Los Angeles). AB 609, as the bill is known, ensures that those who stand to benefit most from state-funded research, such as healthcare providers, students and professors, biotech professionals, and anyone with an interest in the field, will have access to current research results free of charge. Beginning January 1, 2015, the products of more than $200 million in annual research paid for by California taxpayers will be freely available—with some restrictions: AB 609 applies only to research funded by the Department of Public Health.