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NISO Launches New Initiative to Develop Standard for Open Access Metadata and Indicators Cynthia Hodgson 07 Feb 2013 17:15 UTC

NISO Launches New Initiative to Develop Standard for Open Access Metadata
and Indicators
Interested participants from all library types, publishers, and funding
agencies are encouraged to contact NISO

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) voting members have
approved a new project to develop standardized bibliographic metadata and
visual indicators to describe the accessibility of journal articles as well
as potentially describe how "open" the item is. Many offerings are available
from publishers under the banner of Open Access (OA), Increased Access,
Public Access, or other descriptions; the terms offered vary between
publishers and, in some cases, based on the funding organization of the
author. Adding to the potential confusion, a number of publishers also offer
hybrid options in which some articles are "open" while the rest of the
journal's content are available only by subscription or license. No
standardized bibliographic metadata currently provides information on
whether a specific article is freely readable and what re-use rights might
be available to readers. Visual indicators or icons indicating the openness
of an article are inconsistent in both design and use across publishers or
even across journals from the same publisher.

"The NISO OA metadata and indicator project would complement other related
efforts currently underway," states Nettie Lagace, NISO's Associate Director
for Programs. "Such projects include CrossMark, CrossRef's update
identification service; How Open Is It?, a guide developed by PLoS, SPARC,
and OASPA; Vocabularies for OA (V40A), a JISC/UKOLN project; ONIX-PL, a
specification for communicating licensing terms developed by EDItEUR; the
Linked Content Coalition; and NISO's Open Discovery Initiative. Coordination
and communication with these projects will be an important aspect of the
NISO working group's efforts."

"The benefits of having standardized OA metadata and indicators should have
a positive impact on many participants in the scholarly communications
chain," explains Todd Carpenter, NISO's Executive Director. "Funders who
have implemented OA mandates would have a mechanism to determine if a
specific article or researcher is compliant with their policies. Publishers
of hybrid journals would benefit by having a simple mechanism for signaling
the OA status of the articles published under that model. Authors could more
easily determine whether their selected distribution option is being
respected and be able to document their compliance with funder requirements.
Readers could more easily ascertain from search results if they can read an
article for free or fee-and more easily adhere to the terms that publishers
have established. Aggregators and discovery service providers would have an
improved mechanism of programmatically collecting and surfacing OA articles
that are available in the community."

The project launched by NISO will focus initially on metadata elements that
describe the readership rights associated with an OA article. Specifically,
the NISO Working Group will determine the optimal mechanisms to describe and
transmit the right, if any, an arbitrary user has to access a specific
article from any internet connection point. Recommendations will include a
means for distribution and aggregation of this metadata in machine-readable
form. The group will also consider the feasibility of incorporating
information on re-use rights and the feasibility of reaching agreement on
transmission of that data.

Individuals interested in participating in this working group should contact
Nettie Lagace ( An interest group list for this project
will be available for those who would like to receive updates on the Working
Group's progress and provide feedback to the group on its work. To
subscribe, send an e-mail to

Cynthia Hodgson
Technical Editor / Consultant
National Information Standards Organization

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