Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Freeing My Father's Scientific Publications Update

Well, I have made some progress already in my quest I began on Father's Day to free up the scientific publications of my father (see The Tree of Life: Freeing My Father's Scientific Publications).

I wrote to the powers that be at the journal "Endocrinology" asking about when back issues might be made available. And I got a VERY quick reply from someone from Highwire Press which is the place that puts out Endocrinology on the web
Dear Jonathan Eisen,

The Endocrine Society is currently in the process of loading back issues for all of their journals. It will most likely be six months before back content is online.
The person who wrote back was almost apologetic about how long this might take but I am personally very pleased. Given that Endocrinology says the make all articles more than a year old available for free, this likely means that my father's three papers in Endocrinology will soon be available for free online. This then changes my tally to:

Pubmed Central: 3
Free access: 17
Fee access: 11
Unavailable: 4

Getting better. Of course, I want them all to be as widely available as possible so I am still going to work to move everything up the list towards Pubmed Central. Also, my brother suggests (in the comments to my previous post) that since my father was a government employee we should be able to just post his papers online. I think this is a good option but I still will be working on the "official" channels to see what happens.

Since I made the original posting there have been some useful comments about what I might do on some other sites. See for example, this FriendFeed discussion (I have just discovered FriendFeed and it seems quite cool but I am not sure if everyone can see this discussion or not so please let me know if this link does not work).

I will keep posting on my progress as well as what I learn about Copyright, Free Access, etc.


  1. Are you familiar with the COinS standard? ( It would help provide access to the fee access items, at least for your readers at universities, by letting you embed "headless" OpenURLs that a browser plugin converts into links to the user's institutional OpenURL resolver. So you encode the citation metadata in a COinS, and my browser converts that into a link to my local resolver, which takes me to the article via whatever licensed access channel my university library has provided. Not as good as open access, but better than nothing.

  2. This is quite a nice idea - my father is a scientist too, so I just searched PubMed and found many of his (psychology) papers there. However, they were all published prior to the open access era - so none are available unless I get a hardcopy and scan them in, or unless I pay a fee to the journal for their scanned (and copyrighted) version.
    But this makes me think that some enterprising scientists ought to scan everything that's older than a certain date in the scientific literature and make it all free. How long can journals keep their copyright protections, do you know?

  3. If you go the the "FriendFeed" discussion there is some information on this. I think the Copyright should expire after 30 years.

    It would seem to me that the publishers must be trying to prevent people from doing this.

    I found some information on this at which implies that some stuff can be "protected" for up to 95 years depending on when published.

    I will ask around for more detail.


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