UNESCO’s Global Open Access Portal (GOAP) launched

We are energized to go exploring when we encounter a resource that opens new landscapes, especially on a global level.

So we have indeed been exploring the recently released UNESCO Global Open Access Portal (GOAP).

GOAP “…presents a current snapshot of the status of Open Access (OA) to scientific information around the world.

“For countries that have been more successful implementing Open Access, the portal highlights critical success factors and aspects of the enabling environment. For countries and regions that are still in the early stages of Open Access development, the portal identifies key players, potential barriers and opportunities.”

Funded by the Governments of Colombia, Denmark, Norway, and the United States Department of State, the Global Open Access Portal provides an overview of the framework surrounding Open Access in UNESCO Member States by focusing on:

– the critical success factors for effectively implementing Open Access;

– each country’s strengths and opportunities for further developments;

– where mandates for institutional deposits and funding organization have been put into place;

– potential partners at the national and regional level; and

– funding, advocacy, and support organizations throughout the world.

The portal provides is NOT designed to provide an inventory of repositories, OA journals, and other associated initiatives.

We have been looking in particular at a number of entries for developing nations, and are delighted at the status of the OA movement in many of them. The country level record are well documented and apparently “candid” in their assessment of the state-of-play.

I have also just registered for the WSIS OA Knowledge Community

described as a Community of Practice (CoP) within the platform of WSIS Knowledge Communities. The Open Access community in the platform “enables Open Access stakeholders to discuss and debate issues of common interests, and develop consensus around various issues.”

I will report further as my exploration continues…but much impressed by this important initiative.

David R Curry
8 December 2011


NSF Solicitation: Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections

We have followed the rapid emergence of “big data science” over the last few years, which includes digitization of “collections” which underpin new research efforts and which, when utilized in new research, are now required to be made part of an accessible database and available for the broader research community.

The National Science Foundation is driving much of this activity and we find the language in solicitations for new grants a useful marker for how quickly and in what direction the field is moving.

In this regard, NSF released a new solicitation last week – Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) – which provide an excellent example.

Language from the Program Description section provides context:
“Digitizing and mobilizing the Nation’s biological and paleontological collections represents a grand challenge and will require development of both technical and human resources to support the creation of an enduring digital alliance of collections and institutions.

“This program establishes a national resource to integrate the digitization data and make it widely accessible. Collections digitization is defined broadly for the purpose of this solicitation to include the capture of digital images of specimens, transcription into electronic format of various types of data associated with specimens or linking ancillary data already stored in an electronic format apart from the voucher specimens, and the georeferencing of specimen-collection localities.

“…Paleontological collections are included and may be integrated with biological collections if relevant to a research theme, or may be developed around a research theme unique to the past. This program will create an organizational structure and processes inclusive of the broad biological and paleontological collections community, provide open data access, and empower biological and paleobiological researchers.”


The NSF does note that while “new efforts and approaches to understanding biodiversity and advancing our knowledge are represented by several NSF programs (e.g., Dimensions of Biodiversity, Systematics and Biodiversity Science, Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology). “However, there is a digitization bottleneck that effectively limits access to information residing in the various vouchered collections across the U.S. and the world. It is estimated that U.S. collections contain one billion specimens, but only 10% of these are accessible online.”

This solicitation is occurring in the broader context of surveys of federally held or supported collections and responds to a ten-year strategic plan to digitize, image and mobilize biological collections data here http://digbiocol.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/niba_brochure.pdf.

The goal of the this digitization effort is “to produce a resource of lasting value for answering major research questions” with key objectives:

–  digitize data from all U.S. biological collections, large and small, and integrate these in a web accessible interface using shared standards and formats

–  develop new web interfaces, visualization and analysis tools, data mining, georeferencing processes and make all available for using and improving the collections resource

–  create real-time upgrades of biological data and prevent the future occurrence of non-accessible collection data through the use of tools, training, and infrastructure.

Altogether ambitious and instructive for other discipline areas which are still navigating their path to action around “collections” integral to their advancement!

David R Curry
30 October 2011

WIPO and BVGH launch major IP collaboration with industry for NTDs, malaria, TB

A global knowledge commons cannot function fully without addressing long-term and more tactical access to IP controlled (and restricted) by commercial, academic and other  noncommercial organizations.

Of course, proprietary information which is judged to be critical to competitive advantage or otherwise central to sustainability will not be soon released. But when “pharma” – where such competition is a hallmark – engages a major collaboration around critical IP, it is worth taking note and taking action.

So we note with interest the announcement by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH)  of WIPO Re:Search – “an (unprecedented) new consortium where public and private sector organizations share valuable intellectual property (IP) and expertise with the global health research community to promote development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to treat neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis.”

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry commented, “WIPO Re:Search is a ground breaking example of how a multi-stakeholder coalition can put IP to work for social benefit. By joining WIPO Re:Search, companies and researchers commit to making selected intellectual property assets available under royalty-free licenses to qualified researchers anywhere in the world for research and development on neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis. This commitment should accelerate the development of medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics for these diseases.”

WIPO Re:Search involves the following organizations at launch:
–          Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
–          AstraZeneca
–          Eisai
–          GlaxoSmithKline
–          Merck/ MSD
–          Novartis
–          Pfizer
–          Sanofi
–          WIPO
–          BVGH
–          U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
–          California Institute of Technology
–          Center for World Health & Medicine
–          Drugs for Neglected Diseases
–          Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz)
–          Massachusetts Institute of Technology
–          Medicines for Malaria Venture
–          PATH
–          South African Medical Research Council
–          Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
–          University of California, Berkeley, and
–          University of Dundee (UK).

Membership in WIPO Re:Search as “a user, provider, or supporter is open to all organizations that endorse, adhere to, and support the project’s Guiding Principles.”

These Guiding Principles include the commitment that IP licensed via WIPO Re:Search will be licensed on a royalty-free basis for research and development on neglected tropical diseases in any country and on a royalty-free basis for sale of neglected tropical disease medicines in, or to, least developed countries.

The WIPO Re:Search database includes “a wide variety of contributions relevant to malaria, tuberculosis, and other neglected tropical diseases, including individual compounds and associated data, screening hits from compound libraries, and expertise and know-how in pharmaceutical research and development. In addition, WIPO Re:Search offers the opportunity for neglected tropical disease researchers to work directly with scientists at pharmaceutical companies to advance R&D on these diseases.”

BIO Ventures for Global Health will function as administrator of the WIPO Re:Search Partnership Hub.


David R Curry
30 October 2011

ITU announces new global 2015 broandband infrastructure targets; ICT communication as ‘a human need and a right’

As the broadband revolution continues in the West and North, we are tracking with interest how broadband is progressing in other regions and what pacing is underway to open access to the South in particular. This announcement provides calibration and some optimism.

The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) – the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology – announced “four ‘ambitious but achievable’ new targets for 2015 that countries around the world should strive to meet in order to ensure their populations fully participate in tomorrow’s emerging knowledge societies.”

The ITU said that targets were endorsed at the Fourth Meeting of its Broadband Commission for Digital Development and cover broadband policy, affordability and uptake:

Making broadband policy universal: By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service

Making broadband affordable: By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (for example, amount to less than 5% of average monthly income).

Connecting homes to broadband: By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.

Getting people online: By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The Broadband Challenge endorsed by the Commission recognizes communication as ‘a human need and a right’, and “calls on governments and private industry to work together to develop the innovative policy frameworks, business models and financing arrangements needed to facilitate growth in access to broadband worldwide.”

The document also notes that “It is essential to review legislative and regulatory frameworks, many of which are inherited from the last century, to ensure the free and unhindered flow of information in the new virtual, hyper-connected world,” and stresses the “need to stimulate content production in local languages and enhance local capacity to benefit from, and contribute to, the digital revolution.”

The Broadband Challenge report as pdf here.  ITU media release here.

David R Curry
30 October 2011

Momentum Building on Open Access: ACRL; IFLA; Berlin 9 Conference in Washington DC

[pdf version of this post: Post_Momentum Building on Open Access_davidrcurry_19Oct2011]


An interesting confluence of actions around the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and the Humanities  is at hand.

The Berlin Declaration is both powerful in its intent and elegant in its concision. At its core are a goals statement, a definition of an open access contribution and a discussion of transition actions and support inserted below for those who may not be familiar

The confluence:

Last week, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)   became a signatory to the Berlin Declaration, “encouraging  college and research libraries, as well as other campus groups, to follow suit.”

ACRL’s announcement noted that it “has long supported open access to scholarship as a central principle for reform in the system of scholarly communication. The association’s new strategic Plan for Excellence, the goal in the area of research and scholarly environment calls for librarians to accelerate the transition to a more open system of scholarship. Signing the Berlin Declaration is one way college and university libraries can demonstrate their intention to influence scholarly publishing policies and practices toward a more open system…”

The ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 12,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals.

Also last week, the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations)  established the IFLA Open Access Taskforce to take act on IFLA’s endorsement of its  Statement on Open Access and on becoming a signatory to the Berlin Declaration earlier this year.

The full IFLA Statement on Open Access is available here as a pdf and an abstract is just below:

IFLA is committed to the principles of freedom of access to information and the belief that universal and equitable access to information is vital for the social, educational, cultural, democratic, and economic well-being of people, communities, and organizations.

Open access is the now known name for a concept, a movement and a business model whose goal is to provide free access and re-use of scientific knowledge in the form of research articles, monographs, data and related materials. Open access does this by shifting today’s prevalent business models of after-publication payment by subscribers to a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access. Thus, open access is an essential issue within IFLA’s information agenda.

The IFLA taskforce will work on the following issues [full text from announcement]:
– Advocate for the adoption and promotion of open access policies as set out in IFLA’s Statement on Open Access within the framework of the United Nations institutions (UN, UNESCO, WHO, FAO),
– Build Capacity within the IFLA Membership to advocate for the adoption of open access policies at the national level, through the development of case studies and best practices for open access promotion;
– Furthermore the taskforce will connect to the various organizations working for Open Access – as indicated in the statement -such as SPARC (US/Europe/Japan), COAR, OASPA,EIFL, Bioline International & DOAJ, among others.

The initial task is “…to produce a road map for the work to presented for the IFLA Governing Board in December and as well to begin collecting case studies and best practice related to how national library associations can promote national policies and programs to further foster the progress of Open Access.”

Last, Berlin 9   – part of the The Berlin Open Access Conference Series – will convene  of the its first annual meeting to take place in North America in Washington DC on 9-10 November 2011.

This meeting will “convene leaders in the science, humanities, research, funding, and policy communities” to “examine the impact that Open Access can have in advancing the conduct and communication of research and scholarship, with a particular focus on the impact this can have on the public. The program will also feature concrete steps taken by a wide range of institutions to support Open Access, and provide an opportunity to consider additional actions that might be taken – including encouraging institutional sign-on to the Berlin Declaration…”

While I suspect these are not the only announcements and events in this “confluence” they are certainlky of note…we will be monitoring with great interest as they make their respective contributions to building the open access momentum underway.

David R. Curry
19 October 2011


Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and the Humanities

Our mission of disseminating knowledge is only half complete if the information is not made widely and readily available to society. New possibilities of knowledge dissemination not only through the classical form but also and increasingly through the open access paradigm via the Internet have to be supported. We define open access as a comprehensive source of human knowledge and cultural heritage that has been approved by the scientific community.

In order to realize the vision of a global and accessible representation of knowledge, the future Web has to be sustainable, interactive, and transparent. Content and software tools must be openly accessible and compatible.

Definition of an Open Access Contribution
Establishing open access as a worthwhile procedure ideally requires the active commitment of each and every individual producer of scientific knowledge and holder of cultural heritage. Open access contributions include original scientific research results, raw data and metadata, source materials, digital representations of pictorial and graphical materials and scholarly multimedia material.

Open access contributions must satisfy two conditions:
1. The author(s) and right holder(s) of such contributions grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship (community standards, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work, as they do now), as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.

2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in an appropriate standard electronic format is deposited (and thus published) in at least one online repository using suitable technical standards (such as the Open Archive definitions) that is supported and maintained by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, inter operability, and long-term archiving.

Supporting the Transition to the Electronic Open Access Paradigm
Our organizations are interested in the further promotion of the new open access paradigm to gain the most benefit for science and society. Therefore, we intend to make progress by
– encouraging our researchers/grant recipients to publish their work according to the principles of the open access paradigm.
– encouraging the holders of cultural heritage to support open access by providing their resources on the Internet.
– developing means and ways to evaluate open access contributions and online-journals in order to maintain the standards of quality assurance and good scientific practice.
– advocating that open access publication be recognized in promotion and tenure evaluation.
– advocating the intrinsic merit of contributions to an open access infrastructure by software tool development, content provision, metadata creation, or the publication of individual articles.

We realize that the process of moving to open access changes the dissemination of knowledge with respect to legal and financial aspects. Our organizations aim to find solutions that support further development of the existing legal and financial frameworks in order to facilitate optimal use and access.


Feeding the Spirit Symposium: A Fresh Frame of Reference for Museums-Community-Food

[This is cross-posted on the AAM Center for the Future of Museums blog site]

As someone who has refined a set of strategies to survive symposiums and conferences (which all too often seem like they could be half as long and twice as substantive) I was disarmed by the quality and impact of CFM’s Feeding the Spirit: Museums, Food and Community last week in Pittsburgh.

The meeting was hosted by the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden, and convened in collaboration with the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Association of Children’s Museums, the American Public Gardens Association and the Association of African American Museums, with support from presenting sponsor UPMC Health Plan and from Sodexo.

I say disarmed because I did not anticipate that the meeting would have the effect of changing my frame of reference about museums and the role that food—broadly speaking—could play to energize, refresh and align mission, programs and people.

The précis for the meeting on the CFM website addresses the opportunity as follows:


“Feeding the Spirit” will recruit museums and public gardens to…help their communities explore our collective values about food, our bodies, our environment and society. It will unify the field around key messages about food critical to transforming the health of the country, and challenge museums and public gardens to integrate these messages into their exhibits, programs and operations. It will lead the field to examine the food choices we provide in our facilities and how these choices align with health and nutrition. [Further, it]…will help museums and public gardens prepare for the future as they re-examine their own attitudes and relationships towards food and explore how food can play a key role in fostering relationships and building new audiences.


But the proof was in the pudding [note food metaphor] as some 150 participants from a range of museum types, as well as food service companies and collaborating organizations, actively participated in thought leader-led panels and workshop-level exercises.

Well…it did recruit, unify, lead and help prepare!

During the day, organizations as diverse as the Yale Peabody Museum, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the Newark Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Growing Power (Chicago) and others all reported on unique and powerful exhibits, programs and initiatives themed to “food.”

My key observation (which I am still reflecting on) is about how rich the collaborative networks were that underpinned all these projects.

Clearly, they each depend on building and nurturing collaborations between museums, but, more important, with non-museums institutions and organizations—governmental, academic, commercial and community.

My open question involves how we develop and refine the collaborative skill sets in our museum staffs and leadership to make such projects and their new kinds of goals and outcomes a possibility….and a success.

The day included a good dose of brainstorming and ideation which will be analyzed and disseminated through the “Feeding the Spirit Cookbook” a resource and discussion guide to follow.

Please watch the the CFM site for posting of meeting videos of the thought leader segments of the meeting as well as the annual CFM Lecture which closed the day: Serve It Up Proudly! Some Food for Thought on the Intersections of Food Studies and Museums delivered by Jessica Harris, culinary historian and Queens College, CUNY and the Ray Charles Program at Dillard University.

David R. Curry

iPRES 2011: Preserving “digital objects” (leaping across chasms)

As in earlier posts, we share here overview and call-for-papers rhetoric around an important conference ahead as a mean to gauge where thinking is trending around digital preservation, the emerging knowledge commons, and other themes of interest.

The upcoming iPRES meeting is an excellent example:
iPRES 2011 – 8th International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects
November 1-4, 2011, Singapore

The overview notes that:

“…Digital Preservation and Curation is evolving from a niche activity to an established practice and research field that involves various disciplines and communities. iPRES 2011 will re-emphasise that preserving our scientific and cultural digital heritage requires integration of activities and research across institutional and disciplinary boundaries to adequately address the challenges in digital preservation. iPRES 2011 will further strengthen the link between digital preservation research and practitioners in memory institutions and scientific research data centres.”

Well said…but we must note that “integration and research across institutional and disciplinary boundaries” evokes for us “leaping across chasms” more than it does collegial collaboration.

The Call for Contributions (Extended to 12th August 2011) notes the range of topics involved, presenting a useful schema for understanding the rapidly evolving field:

– Domain-specific Challenges ( Cultural Heritage, Technical and Scientific Processes and Data, Engineering Models and Simulation, Medical Records, Corporate Processes and Recordkeeping, Web Archiving, Personal Archiving, e-Procurement, etc.)

– Systems Life-cycle ( Requirements, Modeling, Design, Development, Deployment and Maintenance)

– Trusted Repositories and Governance ( Risk Analysis, Planning, Audit and Certification, Business Models, Cost Estimation, etc.)

– Case Studies and Best Practices ( Processes, Metadata, Systems, Services, Infrastructures, etc.)

– Innovation in Digital Preservation ( Novel Challenges and Scenarios, Innovative Approaches)

– Added-value of Digital Preservation (Emerging Exploitation Scenarios and the Long-Tail of Digital Repositories and Archives)

– Training and Education

– Theory of Digital Preservation

This seems a solid “thumbnail” view of the field…and we wish the conference well….

Speaking to the solidarity one would hope for in this space of endeavor, we note that The National Library Board, Singapore  and Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore are hosting iPRES 2011 in Singapore, stepping in for the Japan earthquake-challenged original site for the meeting.

We hope to attend and will watch for webcasting and posting of key content. Meeting content from earlier meetings (2004+) here: http://ipres-conference.org/ipres/

David R Curry
4 August 2011