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Are Chemical Journals too Expensive and Inaccessible? A Workshop Summary to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable
erty rights are quite central, they are solvable in our context, Berry maintained. He called for an analysis of the financial pathways to open access, but cautioned to not expect any one simple solution.
Alternative models to existing copyright laws already exist—Creative Commons being one of those that the participants discussed. Creative Commons is an important alternative to the conventional understanding of copyright, Anna Gold said. This initiative originated in the artistic, creative part of our culture and has moved into the area of scientific creativity. Creative Commons provides well-crafted legal agreements that allow authors to both control their creative property and enable its reuse without having to be contacted themselves, so they can maintain control while providing access.
Berry talked about the pressing problem of databases and the laws protecting the data, especially in the European Union. The European Union “database directive” created a specific new kind of protection for databases that is more protective than even a copyright. As a result, a number of privately owned and distributed databases in Europe have been created, many of which are very expensive. There was one attempt in the United States to protect satellite data in this way. That idea failed because no one in space science could afford the data. There is an ongoing battle in Congress about whether to enact a law comparable to the one in Europe, Berry said. However, most scientific data are the kind of raw data that can be copyrighted. The Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data, for example, is copyrighted because it contains evaluated data. Berry doubted whether truly raw data still exists from scientific experiments. “When we do an experiment in my lab, we do not simply collect the electrical impulses that detectors find and print those out or put them directly onto some electronic record,” Berry said.
Berry also discussed how a data registry might be needed in the chemistry community—a registry that would not be a data repository, but merely information about whether and where data exist. He said, there could be a great amount of interest in a global biologicals registry, but this might be difficult to set up because many developing countries are very protective of their native flora inventory data. They fear they will be exploited, so they are very cautious about allowing people to construct databases of such information. The chemistry community has large sectors in which work is done on potential pharmaceuticals of natural products, where having data repositories of substances recovered from organisms but not yet studied would be very valuable, according to Berry. Bristol-Myers Squibb would probably be interested in accessing such a registry, but probably would not contribute to it because a registry is a company’s intellectual capital and money, Lou Ann Di Nallo said. According to Ned Heindel, this concept is not at all new. He said the ACS had a section in its Journal of Medicinal Chemistry some years ago that listed negative results for “me-too” compounds. Di Nallo added that it is extremely helpful to the pharmaceutical industry to know which compounds have no activity.
THE FUTURE OF ARCHIVES
Gold talked about the future of archives and some archival tools. The journal is not the final stop on the scientific communication road; the archive is, Gold said. The archive is never final, it is a way to preserve scientific knowledge, to preserve the record so that it can be built on and used into the future.
Some of the problems of archiving include reliability, Gold said. Librarians and scholars have dealt subsequently with publishers who have left the scene and dealt with how to recover data, records, and so forth. Reliable archives will benefit our children and our grandchildren, but in the digital realm, reliability into the future is not a foregone conclusion, she said.
The archive is important because it provides context for work—not merely a way of getting at a particular known piece of work. Libraries provide that context by bringing together the patchwork of various publishers and models, and then deal with the frustrations of trying to piece it all together. Libraries work toward a grand vision of a richer and more interoperable context, Gold said.
Some of the solutions in terms of reliability include finding ways to agree on and share responsibility, according to Gold, and cannot be done in a single organization. Open access with cost sharing in some way and Creative Commons as a means of managing access are very promising ways of handling intellectual property issues and dealing with management and governance issues to help us move into the future. Gold named some current approaches, such as JSTOR, DSpace, and E-Depot. JSTOR is a multi-institution approach to providing access to a historical journal archive. E-Depot is a national-library-plus-publisher initiative to ensure the longevity and reliability of a digital archive into the future. DSpace is MIT Libraries’ multi-institution federation. It is institutional repository software, but also preservation repository software, intended to be open-source and openly developed across many institutions. Possible content ranges across the spectrum from journals to many other kinds.
Some participants felt that depositing is an important part of archiving. The feeling was expressed that either the process of depositing should be part of a seamless workflow, which might be automated through harvesting, or it has to be stewarded. To leave this to individual faculty or their administrative assistants, some felt, is extremely unreliable.
Although there is a tendency in e-business and the Internet-enabled communications industry to charge very