3 Aug 2008

Bioinformation Journal: making sure "open access" means open access

When looking at the journal Bioinformation, I spotted the tagline

"It is free to publish, open access and online immediately upon acceptance"
This is wrong, as like the BioMed Central journals this journal usually charges an article processing charge. This got me digging a bit further.

They state on the published articles that
"This is an open-access article, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited"
OK, although a non-commercial license isn't great, as Peter Murray-Rust has explained. Yet when I tried to right click on the page, a notice popped up:
"Sorry! Copying of these contents for potential editing and reproduction is not permitted. However, you have access to read, know and print contents for non-commercial processes".
This is not consistent with open access; it is a restriction of reuse. It also prevents 'fair use'.

The journal states that
"The authors of published articles in Bioinformation automatically transfer the copyright to the publisher upon formal acceptance. However, the authors reserve right to use the information contained in the article for non commercial purposes"
It is usual among open access journals that the authors retain copyright, and a Creative Commons Attribution license is applied. As the Budapest Statement on Open Access put it "The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited".

I emailed the editors and received a brief reply from Prof Kangueane. Now, a couple of weeks later, the tagline reads
"It is open access and online immediately upon acceptance"
Excellent. The right-click restriction also appears to be gone. I will leave it up to their authors and editors to lobby them to change from a CC-BY-NC to a CC-BY license, but it seems that Biomedical Informatics Publishing Group and Bioinformation are now doing things right.

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