27 April 2008

SPARC Europe Seal for Open Access

This is something that I've thought a good idea for a while; now, it seems to be taking shape:

SPARC Europe (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), a leading organization of European research libraries, and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Lund University Libraries today announced the launch of the SPARC Europe Seal for Open Access journals. Growing numbers of peer-reviewed research journals are opening-up their content online, removing access barriers and allowing all interested readers the opportunity of reading the papers online, with over 3300 such journals listed in the DOAJ, hosted by Lund University Libraries in Sweden.

However, the maximum benefit from this wonderful resource is not being realised as confusion surrounds the use and reuse of material published in such journals. Increasingly, researchers wish to mine large segments of the literature to discover new, unimagined connections and relationships. Librarians wish to host material locally for preservation purposes. Greater clarity will bring benefits to authors, users, and journals.

In order for open access journals to be even more useful and thus receive more exposure and provide more value to the research community it is very important that open access journals offer standardized, easily retrievable information about what kinds of reuse are allowed. Therefore, we are advising that all journals provide clear and unambiguous statements regarding the copyright statement of the papers they publish. To qualify for the SPARC Europe Seal a journal must use the Creative Commons By (CC-BY) license which is the most user-friendly license and corresponds to the ethos of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

The second strand of the Seal is that journals should provide metadata for all their articles to the DOAJ, who will then make the metadata OAI-compliant. This will increase the visibility of the papers and allow OAI-harvesters to include details of the journal articles in their services.

One of the greatest dangers is that the term "open access" be diluted by unscrupulous misappropriation. With luck, the new seal will help to provide an official definition of what is and isn't open access. My only concern is with the name: the "Europe" bit makes it sound like it doesn't apply elsewhere....

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