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January 26, 2007

Brave New Web: Welcome To The Publishing Revolution

.: Physics World (2007), 20(1), January is a special issue: Brave New Web: Welcome To The Publishing Revolution

Although the Web has made accessing papers much easier and faster – trips to the library are largely a thing of the past – the science-publishing model remains essentially unchanged. The Web is, however, forcing commercial scientific publishers to think hard about how they operate, as reported in this special issue.

"The open-access debate", still considers scientific publishing in terms of conventional papers. A bigger unknown surrounds the increasing use of the Web as a social network, or what is loosely known as "Web 2.0", through novel publishing tools like "wikis", "mash-ups" and "social tagging". These facilities allow any information – including scientific information – to be shared, commented upon and adapted online, which could lead to new ideas and forms of thinking, particularly in interdisciplinary research.

The vast majority (84%) of physicists have no idea what social tagging is, and only 14% have ever contributed to a work-related wiki. That lack of awareness is broadly mirrored by Physics World's own informal survey (see "Talking physics in the social Web").

No doubt many physicists will look down their noses at the "social Web" as a gimmick ... but as today’s young physicists grow up, working in an open and collaborative fashion on the Web will, for them, soon be second nature. (Edited extraction from the editorial, Brave New World)

Issue Contents:

Editorial: Brave new Web (**free)
Welcome to the publishing revolution.

Critical Point: The lost art of the letter (**free) by Robert P. Crease SUNY and historian BNL)
The historical importance of personal correspondence and attempts to archive important digital documents.

Forum: Blogging for physics (**free) by Sean Carroll (Particle Theory Group Caltech)
Why I like to blog .. By the 'author' of Cosmic Variance .

Feature: A revolution in bits by Matthew Chalmers (Features Editor Physics World)
Why the Web is changing physics publishing.

Feature: The open-access debate (**free) by Rüdiger Voss (CERN) and John Enderby (IOP Past President)
The pros and cons of free-to-read papers. Voss extols the virtues of open access, Enderby advocates caution.

Feature: Talking physics in the social Web (**free) by Martin Griffiths (Reviews and Careers Editor Physics World)
From "blogs" to "wikis", the Web is now more than a mere repository of information. Martin Griffiths investigates how this new interactivity is affecting the way physicists communicate and access information.

Feature: Peer review steps out of the shadows by Edwin Cartlidge (News Editor Physics World)
How the Web can open up peer review - "open peer review" has yet to catch on in the physics community.

Feature: The rise and rise of citation analysis by Lokman I Meho (SLIS, Indiana University)
Using the Web to quantify scientific output - the Web is allowing physicists and information providers to measure more accurately the impact of both papers and their authors.

September 14, 2006

BioMed Central To Launch New Open-Access Chemistry Journal

.: Knowledgespeak reports today that BioMed Central, under its new initiative called Chemistry Central, "...a new service publishing peer-reviewed open access research in chemistry from BioMed Central", is launching a new journal called Chemistry Central Journal. From the Chemistry Central Journal site:

Chemistry Central Journal (ISSN 1752-153X) is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal recently launched by Chemistry Central. Chemistry Central, developed by the same team who created BioMed Central, the leading biomedical open access publisher, is committed to ensuring peer-reviewed chemical research is immediately and permanently available online without charge or any other barriers to access.

April 10, 2006

InfoToday: European Commission Releases Key Scientific Publishing Report

.: Information Today reported today that the European Commission has released its report on scientific publishing. Opening paragraphs from the article by Robin Peek:

April 10, 2006 — The European Commission has finally released its report on scientific publishing and now has firmly placed itself in the international discussion of where such publishing should go in the future. In June 2004, the European Commission began a study to examine the economic and technical evolution of scientific publishing in Europe. Originally the results were going to be made available in 2005, but the final report was released in January 2006. It was only made available to the public on March 31, 2006. The study was carried out by a consortium led by Mathias Dewatripont of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

The study, undertaken by the directorate-general for research, sought to determine the conditions for “optimum” operation of the scientific sector and to assess how the Commission could help meet those conditions. European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “It is in all our interests to find a model for scientific publication that serves research excellence. We are ready to work with readers, authors, publishers, and funding bodies to develop such a model.”

It was not the intent of this study to replicate the “voluminous existing literature” but to focus upon the “state of the art.” In the balance, this report does a good job of not hammering us over the head with things that are already well-known and well-reported. However, this is not a frothy report, and the analysis in this 100-page document is from an economic perspective. This report even tackled the thorny issue of long-term preservation, which is largely absent from many other discussions.

The report acknowledged that much of the scientific research conducted in Europe is publicly funded and hence recommended that access to such research should be guaranteed.

The report is titled Study on the economic and technical evolution of the scientific publication markets in Europe.”

November 9, 2004

UK Gov't Passes on Opportunity To Support Open Access

:: As reported last year, the UK Science and Technology Committee has been conducting an inquiry into scientific publications. The Guardian had reported that the inquiry could put Reed Elsevier at risk. The final report of the Committee was released in July, 2004, and called on the UK government to support open access publishing.

On the CHMINF-L discussion group on November 8, Bill Town reported that the UK Science and Technology Committee has released its Fourteenth Report of Session 2003-04, entitled: Responses to the Committee's Tenth Report, Session 2003-04: Scientific Publications: Free for all?. From p7 of the report:

Conclusions and recommendations

1. It is clear to us that, in the Government Response, DTI has sought to neutralise some of views put forward by the Joint Information Systems Committee and other organisations and departments. This will prevent the Government from making any significant progress on this issue. (Paragraph 7)

2. Rather than engaging in the complex issues posed by the Committee�s Report, the Government has clearly decided against the author-pays model ahead of the further investigation that it was urged to pursue. This approach prejudges the issue. (Paragraph 8)

3. Following completion of the European Commission study into the market for scientific publications, to which the OFT response refers, we request that the Director General of Fair Trading agrees to write again to the Committee setting out the actions he proposes to take on the basis of the Commission�s findings and the concerns expressed in our Report. (Paragraph 10)

4. We are disappointed that the Government has missed the opportunity to take more decisive action in response to our Report. We recommend that the Government reconsider its position on this important issue in the light of the other responses to our Report published here; the forthcoming RCUK policy on the publication of, and access to, research outputs; and in view of the support for the Committee�s stance from the Wellcome Trust, an important research funder. In this context, we do not believe that Government should continue to refuse to provide the modest funds necessary to make institutional repositories workable, and to allow the experimentation necessary to properly test the feasibility of the author-pays publishing model. (Paragraph 12)

Richard Wray, writing in The Guardian, was quick to respond:
The government yesterday threw away an opportunity to carry out a thorough review of the way scientific research is disseminated. Instead of engaging constructively with the Commons science and technology committee and assessing the potential impact of moves towards "open access" to research, the government - led by the department of trade and industry - sided with the traditional subscriptions-based journal publishers
Wray also reported on the response of the Committee's members to the "obstructive" response of the UK Government.

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