Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, Volume 2, Issue 3 (2014), eP1170.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


This commentary is in response to: NISO RP-22-201x, Open Access Metadata and Indicators (draft for comment), which is available at:

NISO is the National Information Standards Organization, a non-profit industry organization whose mission statement reads: “NISO fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning.” Their recently-issued proposed guidelines for new metadata fields to be attached to scholarly works purport to address and clarify issues of access and re-licensing surrounding the electronic distribution of journal articles. Briefly, they propose to add two fields to the standard metadata: one called “free to read” to identify documents that may be accessed without restriction or registration, and a second called “license_ref ” to point users to a uniform resource identifier (URI) that will purportedly explain the re-use terms that apply to the document in question.

Frankly, the publishers need to put their house in order before presuming to prescribe new metadata standards that will perpetuate their uneven and self-serving administration of the rights they have wrested from the academic laboring class. Enshrining their sometimes questionable claims in dedicated metadata fields would be good business practice for them, but not for those who want to see scholarly communication conducted on more equitable and fairly competitive terms.

I urge the NISO organization to re-think its objectives, means, and priorities here, and to open up the discussion to those stakeholders whose interests were ignored or suppressed.