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64 comments

Isn't this a dupe? (2)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203814)

The link I had to click was already clicked by me, and I think it was because I read it earlier on Slashdot.

Re:Isn't this a dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18203826)

Yes, from just 12 hours ago.

Re:Isn't this a dupe? (4, Funny)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203858)

Proof that cowboyneal doesn't read slashdot! (apart from the polls)

Isn't this a bathroom break? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18203896)

Maybe he was in the bathroom at the time?

Re:Isn't this a dupe? (1)

shudde (915065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205658)

In future, I'd ask you to refrain from reading the article before commenting. You then won't notice the dupes or make the rest of us look ignorant.

Thank you.

First dupe! (1)

IamScared (774266) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203846)

First dupe... today!

Meat and potatoes. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18203854)

"While publishers are fighting open access, a growing number of funding agencies and universities are making it a mandatory requirement.""

OK so let's cut to the chase. Ignoring money for a moment. Let's compare the open-access sites and the closed journals. How do they compare strictly on results? More accurate? Less accurate? More depth? Less depth?

---
"Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment."

TRM (Taco Rights Managment) strikes again

Re:Meat and potatoes. (2, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204256)

open-access sites and the closed journals

This is crap. Thise "closed" journals are not closed, they are abailable, for a fee. And yes, those journals generally provide higher quality papers, better written, better presented, and generally more relevant to the topic it covers. People spend time and resources in developing those results and then another amount of time and resrouces to write them, then another pack of people spend an amount of time and resources to review those wtitings and then some money to publish them. Why on Earth do people think the final product of this sometimes quite consuming and lengthy process should be made freely available to the rest of them ? This is stupid.

Re:Meat and potatoes. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18204712)

People spend time and resources in developing those results and then another amount of time and resrouces to write them, then another pack of people spend an amount of time and resources to review those wtitings and then some money to publish them. Why on Earth do people think the final product of this sometimes quite consuming and lengthy process should be made freely available to the rest of them ?

The problem is it is the same people: scientists write papers, and review each other papers. They get paid very little, if anything by the publishers for either of these activities. Then when they want to read a paper they have to pay a huge fee to the journals.

So you see the problem with this model? Yep, publishers get all the money and do none of the work. Often with online journals you rent access to them, and if your subscription lapses, you can't read the papers any more. Traditional scientific publishing has discovered the digital age, and decided that the music industry model is the one to follow.

Re:Meat and potatoes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18204720)

Because some authors PAY to get published in a reputable journal. They want their works out there and the reputation it brings them.

If a reputable peer-moderated, peer-reviewed forum can be opened up and made available for free, the better it will be for everyone. Except some publishers.

Re:Meat and potatoes. (4, Informative)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204930)

You haven't even read the article, have you? The gripe isn't about how the "closed" journals should be made available for free. The "closed" journals aren't even considered here. If you spent a few seconds skimming through the article you would realize that what is being demanded here is that the papers which are produced by public research institutions, papers which are funded by public money, should be made freely available and that their access should not be restricted and much less the exclusive property of private publishers. Do you understand your miss-interpretation here? No one is demanding that the private publishers offer their publications for free. The demand is that papers written by public research institutions should be made available to the general public as soon as they are made available to those private publishers.

Of course the private publishers are against it. Until now they had the monopoly and complete control on scientific publications and their content's distribution. As soon as the gross of it's content can be made available to the general public they start to get forced out of the loop. Heck, as soon as someone creates a central public repository of scientific publications where anyone and everyone can access, which will reinforce the peer-review process (which is naturally hindered by the way the old style scientific publications work), the publishers, as they currently are, will become totally irrelevant.

Re:Meat and potatoes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18205104)

People spend time and resources in developing those results
For the most part paid for by public dollars. Those that don't use public dollars aren't the issue.

and then another amount of time and resrouces to write them,
For the most part paid for by public dollars. Those that don't use public dollars aren't the issue.

then another pack of people spend an amount of time and resources to review those wtitings
For the most part paid for by public dollars. Those that don't use public dollars aren't the issue.

and then some money to publish them.
For the most part paid for by public dollars. Those that don't use public dollars aren't the issue.

Why on Earth do people think the final product of this sometimes quite consuming and lengthy process should be made freely available to the rest of them ?
because they already paid for it.

This is stupid.
For people that think so there is a very easy alternative; don't use public money to fund your research

All your articles are belong to us. (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205110)

...People spend time and resources in developing those results and then another amount of time and resrouces to write them, then another pack of people spend an amount of time and resources to review those wtitings and then some money to publish them. ... This is stupid.

Yes. It is stupid. Let's look at why it is so stupid, point by point:

  • People spend time and resources in developing those results
    - and that's paid for by research grants, maybe with a handful of change from the researcher's institution, publishers are not financially involved.
  • then another amount of time and resrouces to write them
    - that's usually also covered in the research grant, reports are part of the deliverables. Followup papers or re-writes may be funded by the researcher's institution because part of salaried staff's job is to "publish or perish". Again, publishers are not financially involved.
  • then another pack of people spend an amount of time and resources to review those wtitings
    - and there the other researchers institutions pay the bill, as it is their staff, the peers of the author, who must do the reviewing. Again, publishers are not financially involved.
  • and then some money to publish them
    - it is here the publishers shell out, but it is chump change compared to the gross income. Again, the researcher and his peers must review even the galley proofs, and it is their institutions which cover those hours.

In short, the publisher deals with distribution and branding.

So. What the current paper-based publishers offer is brand recognition, through the reputation of the journal's past publications. That's something which can be easily duplicated with Open Access. The difficulty is in bootstrapping the process, and that difficulty is fortunately being overcome in several fields.

Thise "closed" journals are not closed, they are abailable, for a fee.

They are in effect closed for most people and even many institutions: Take a look at those fees. The realize that for many institutions, these journals are often only available as part of "packages" which are set up worse than cable TV packages. The only way to get all the journals you want for a given field would be to buy all of the packages from all of the publishers, even if you don't want or don't use 80% - 90% of the others in the package.

However, most places don't have that kind of money to throw around and must choose, some times just one. So one package gets chosen and the journals in those packages, good or not, get promoted and the journals in the other package are invisible. With a little bit of planning, the MBAs choosing the titles to go into the packages and prices for the packages could, if they had incentive, marginalize specific research topics.

Why, yes. I have worked closely for many years with libraries, librarians, researchers and reviewers.

Because .... (1)

BayaWeaver (1048744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205400)

papers, better written, better presented, and generally more relevant to the topic it covers. People spend time and resources in developing those results and then another amount of time and resrouces to write them, then another pack of people spend an amount of time and resources to review those wtitings and then some money to publish them. Why on Earth do people think the final product of this sometimes
It is not the interest of those people (academics) who spend time and resources to obtain and write up the results to limit their audience. Academics gain most through enhanced reputations when more people can access their findings. And I think the reviewers would want their unpaid work to benefit as many as is possible too. The objective of the final product is to increase human understanding and the reputations of the scientists, not the profits of the publishers. This is reason why 20,000 people signed the petition. They are the ones who do the research, write up the papers (and the grant applications!) and review and edit the papers, so I think their opinions do matter very much.

Re:Meat and potatoes. (1)

daniorerio (1070048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205748)

Because if you don't work in the USA, which is still the majority of the scientist, odds are that your university is funded by tax-payers money. So it is reasonable to require that your publicly funded results be available for the public to read them. The interesting thing of course is: for the scientist this is ALSO advantageous! Given the fact that most journals require a publication fee anyway (both commercial "closed" and open journals) and that ALL good articles are peer reviewed (also the open ones). I as a scientist would definately prefer to publish in a open journal because it will allow everyone to access your data. And I think that there are enough opions available too, for example PLOS Biology has an impact factor only beaten by the very best (Cell, Nature, Science).

Seen it (4, Informative)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203878)

It's just like this story [slashdot.org] on Slashdot this morning. Even links to the same story [bbc.co.uk] on BBC.

Moo (5, Funny)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203888)

Open Access For Research Gaining Steam

First steam, maybe they'll get electricity soon?

what the fuck is http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18203892)

http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl/ [slashdot.org]

It renders like shit on internet explorer.

Is IE support like not even an issue for you guys now? Jeez. I wish I could just ignore browsers I don't like at my job.

On the one hand... (5, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203920)

On the one hand, peer review and editing (things which closed journals often provide) are important. The classic example is the law journal where a misplaced comma cost millions, but it's also important in scientific journals where someone should be asking "does this sentence make sense?"

On the other hand, why the hell should it cost anything for someone to read the research that their taxpayer dollars are funding? And why should there be gatekeepers of knowledge, or perceived knowledge? My grandfather had a paper that was rejected from the New England Journal of Medicine because he'd done the research before one of the editors, who came out with his own substantially similar paper later. Information should not be subjected to politics--especially information that saves lives. Restricting information increases corruption.

Re:On the one hand... (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203964)

On the one hand, peer review and editing (things which closed journals often provide) are important.

Oh, I don't know, slashdot seems to manage just fine with incompetent, dupe-posting editors...

Re:On the one hand... (4, Informative)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203994)

On the one hand, peer review and editing (things which closed journals often provide) are important.
You do realise that refereeing for journals is often unpaid work work right? At its worst the article author does the research, writes the paper, typesets the paper (often according to journal guidelines, and journal provided LaTeX documentclasses), and then pays the journal (on a per page basis) for the privilege of getting published. The journal, in turn, electronically distributes the papers to referees who provide peer review for free, so that a unpaid editorial board can decide what to print, at thich point the publisher collects the already typeset articles into a single document, prints it, and then university libraries charges thousands of dollars a year per journal for subscriptions. Where do those thousands of dollars a year per journal go? Straight to the publisher. The editorial board may get a small token amount. There is nothing journals from publishers like Elsevier provide that open access journals can't provide for a token fee: the articles, the peer review, the editorial board, are often all free - it is a matter of prestige for those involved. Likewise, in this day and age, typesetting is provided by the authors (who use TeX), and distribution (both to referees for review, and final distribution as a journal) can be provided electronically for marginal cost. At worst you need to pay for an editorial board, and someone to compile the separate TeX articles into a single consistent document.

On the one hand...Raising a bar. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18204090)

"There is nothing journals from publishers like Elsevier provide that open access journals can't provide for a token fee: the articles, the peer review, the editorial board, are often all free - it is a matter of prestige for those involved."

Yeah! Just look at how well it works for Wikipedia, and it's offshoots.

Re:On the one hand...Raising a bar. (4, Informative)

shura57 (727404) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204244)

In Wikipedia anybody and their dog can edit. In contrast, in peer-reviewed journals it's the editors who select the competent referees. Your comparison is not fair: there is definitely a bunch of loonies who would love to referee the papers, but they never get invited.

Nobody said that the publisher has to be handsomely paid to have an unpaid editors and unpaid reviewer that they have now.

Re:On the one hand... (5, Insightful)

shura57 (727404) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204268)

Indeed. The ideal process would be a taxpayer-sponsored publishing. There's some overhead in maintaining the organization, so it's not completely zero cost. However, it must be far lower that what the publishers want us to believe. One could have taxpayer-run electronic publishing, and then allow commercial publishers to print and sell the articles for those who want the nice and shiny paper version (as opposed to printing it yourself).

What gets me the most is that currently publishers make you sign the copyright waver to transfer rights to them. All such forms that I have seen start with "The copyright law requires that you transfer the copyright..." which is a complete bullshit. I could have held the copyright and just given them permission to publish it once, there's nothing in any law that requires copyright transfer for publishing.

But if I don't sign that form then I don't get published, and then I don't get funded for research because I have no publications. Catch-22.

Re:On the one hand... (3, Insightful)

blakestah (91866) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204782)

Right...

The simple solution is an internet-based taxpayer-sponsored library.

It avoids de-privatizing the journals.

It gives the public the access they want for the price they want.

Just hotlink them through Entrez Pubmed, or whatever other search engines people use, and collect use statistics to pay the journals.

The way this query is worded "Free public access to science" suggests that the peer review process and distribution process are inherently worthless. That could not be farther from true. But giving the public access to scientific work is a great idea.

Re:On the one hand... (2, Interesting)

lukesl (555535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205348)

I agree about the library idea, but on top of that what I've always wanted to see would be a slashdot-style discussion board for every paper hosted by pubmed, where there could be discussion (anonymous or not) of every paper that comes out. People could post problems they have with the paper, the authors could respond, and anyone involved could read it. It would be a tremendous educational tool, and also I think it would expose a lot of the subtle points (good or bad) in a paper that only people in that particular sub-sub-field would know about.

Re:On the one hand... (1)

blakestah (91866) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205688)

30-40 years ago they used to collate dialog from conference proceedings, with author names associated with their comments.

It is inspiring and educational in an entirely different way from peer review papers. You can find them in the library, up through the mid 1960s (at least I can find them).

I suspect an open-source model peer review will work well for some high profile journals. The editor would post the manuscript publicly, specifically email a half dozen key people in the field, and use the commentary/feedback to decide on publication. All comments associated with the author's real name. There would be requirements for a lot of feedback, and it being principally positive. If there is not much feedback, the issues are lower impact and should go to a specialist journal. If the feedback is logically tight and principally negative, the paper is rejected. Borderline cases the manuscript is withdrawn, revised, and re-posted.

Obviously this would never work at a specialist journal, because no one would comment, but at a high impact journal it JUST MIGHT WORK. They could even trial it on a limited number of submissions. It would certainly get rid of all the crap that slips between the cracks at the better short-manuscript-length journals like Science and Nature.

Re:On the one hand... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18206812)

What gets me the most is that currently publishers make you sign the copyright waver to transfer rights to them. All such forms that I have seen start with "The copyright law requires that you transfer the copyright..." which is a complete bullshit. I could have held the copyright and just given them permission to publish it once, there's nothing in any law that requires copyright transfer for publishing.

But if I don't sign that form then I don't get published, and then I don't get funded for research because I have no publications. Catch-22.


We need to push for federal and state laws that basically says that research sponsered by tax payer money belongs to the various government organizations and that the various researches never held the copyright to transfer to a publisher in the first place and that the government just took back its socalled transfered copyrights and any publisher that wants to protest gets to deal with the government.

On the one hand...advanatages of "shiny". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18206986)

"One could have taxpayer-run electronic publishing, and then allow commercial publishers to print and sell the articles for those who want the nice and shiny paper version (as opposed to printing it yourself)."

Well I believe that slashdot has already covered the advantages of paper over computer displays. Plus despite slashdot's love affair with the internet. Not everyone has it for various reasons. And last paper has been shown to have longevity that most digital storage techniques have yet to match. Instant-gratification is nice, but other considerations need to be taken as well.

Re:On the one hand... (4, Insightful)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204294)

There is one thing... fame, thats pretty much the only thing those journals can provide. But I agree, the journal system is dreadful and the publishers are mostly crooks ripping the universities off after they bascially have done all the work themselves, they only are overpriced printing presses and fame donators (well the big journals are, the small ones are just printing presses)

Re:On the one hand... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18204536)

My goodness, if only you were right. I have found Elsiveier's journals to be rather TEX- unfriendly, and many other (medical) journals expect things in "pc-friendly format" (by which I think they mean M$ word). Maybe I should have stayed with computer science...

YIIAS, and YILT (I love TEX)

Oh, most of your post is correct. I'm just peer-reviewing your statement that journals let the authors do the typesetting in TEX.

Re:On the one hand... (1)

MadFarmAnimalz (460972) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204828)

You do realise that refereeing for journals is often unpaid work work right?

Paid by the word, are we we?

Re:On the one hand... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18204840)

There is nothing journals from publishers like Elsevier provide that open access journals can't provide for a token fee: the articles, the peer review, the editorial board, are often all free - it is a matter of prestige for those involved. Likewise, in this day and age, typesetting is provided by the authors (who use TeX), and distribution (both to referees for review, and final distribution as a journal) can be provided electronically for marginal cost. At worst you need to pay for an editorial board, and someone to compile the separate TeX articles into a single consistent document.

I grant you that some journal, perhaps even most, do little for their money. But you're sadly mistaken if you think that if that a journal can run for free or "a token". Editorial staff do a lot of work - finding referees, handing out reviews, chasing up reviews when they are late (i.e. always), reconciling disagreements between referees, sending papers back for corrections, chasing up the corrections when they're late (i.e. often), assessing that the referees criticisms have been met, handling reply papers or letters. Some of the bigger journals also have people go over papers and massage them into a "house style". Distribution is cheap - it's all the human labour involved before the paper gets printed that costs.

As for "typesetting is provided by the authors": I'm old enough to remember when a lot of journal were done like that, assembled from the original typewritten manuscripts, a hodge-podge of typefaces and sizes. We so don't want to go back to those days. TeX isn't an answer - outside of CompSci and math, very scientists use it. And as someone who's had to assemble a proceedings from 30 manuscripts supposedly produced from the same TeX template, it's not as simple as just joining them together.

I support Open Access, but it's just a question of snapping your fingers and having all the work done for free. Last year a journal I submit to sent me a questionaire floating the idea they might go Open Access. I replied that it was a good idea, but that I would be unable to publish there anymore as I couldn't afford the £1000 per paper it would cost me. The current model of Open Access just shifts costs from the journal subscriber to the paper author.

Re:On the one hand... (5, Informative)

ChemE (1070458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204250)

On the one hand, peer review and editing (things which closed journals often provide) are important.... On the other hand, why the hell should it cost anything for someone to read the research that their taxpayer dollars are funding?
These, however, do not have to be exclusive. For example, the Public Library of Science (Plos) now has a number of journals which are peer reviewed. But they are freely accessible through the internet. In addition the authors maintain the copyright through use of the Creative Commons license. And their goal is to be at the level of Science or Nature. See http://www.plos.org/ [plos.org]

Re:On the one hand... (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204280)

Open access journals have the same peer review and editing standards as traditional "closed" journals do. PLoS Biology, say, is a hell of a long way from Wikipedia. In fact, speaking as a grad student who reads a whole lot of journal articles published in a variety of formats, I'd say the editing standards are often higher for journals from the better open-access publishers (PLoS and BMC come to mind) than they are for paper journals.

Who pays the money... (1)

jetxee (940811) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205646)

It is not that Open Access journals are easily admitted for publication and not peer-reviewed. They may undergo the very same procedure. The difference is who pays for the article.

In traditional journals it is the reader who pays (and sometimes an author). But this effectively makes publications not available for general public, unless they are ready to shell out $30 for 10-page PDF with DRM restrictions (valid for two days only) or you know the author in person.

In open access journal it is author who pays for expenses. The fee is typicall $2000 (http://www.plosone.org/) or $3000 (http://www.springer.com/openchoice). If it is a public grant for research, I think it is the right thing to pay $2000 and give back the results to the public. BTW, you may see, that traditional publishers like Springer are also adopting Open Access. It is good for everyone.

Dupes like this... (1)

SexyJesus (43326) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203984)

... kill the conversation. Now the comments on a single FA are spread over the comments on two stories.

I stand on the shoulders of giants (2, Informative)

Somnus (46089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204020)

Allow me to cite an earlier source [slashdot.org] .

Gaining Steam...? (2, Funny)

Green Monkey (152750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204056)

Open Research Gaining Steam, eh? Sounds great; maybe I'll be able to play Half-Life on the lab computers!

Re:Gaining Steam...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18204426)

When can we preload?

FireHose (5, Insightful)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204080)

Given the five or so posts pointing out this was a dupe from this morning, who voted for this on FireHose? The status for this article was red indicating many people want this story on the main page. If anything, this shows we should probably give the editors a break... they made only one mistake based on the mistakes of a large number of readers.

Re:FireHose (2, Funny)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204152)

So Slashdot has now cluster-handedly disproven the "wisdom of the crowd"?

Bioinformatics has been open from the beginning (3, Insightful)

Puff Daddy (678869) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204212)

Bioinformatics, especially genomics, has been open from the beginning. It's about time the rest of science caught up.

Mandating it in the law would fail in America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18204300)

.. because..

"For example, last year the Federal Research Public Access Act was introduced in the US Congress.

If enacted, the bill would require federal agencies that fund over $100m in annual external research to make manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from that research publicly available on the intern"

They will just fund them for $99.999999 or $100m on lots of "micro" projects instead so they dont have to open it up.

Built in loophole.

Do NOT blame the scientists. (4, Insightful)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204474)

As these discussions go, I would like to emphasize that NOTHING will be accomplished by blaming scientists. We certainly will keep results and important data to ourselves until such time as it forms a story worth publishing. Demanding anything before that is a recipe for disaster. After something is published, I for one want as many people in the world to read it as possible. However, the major journals out there operate as business via advertising and publishing costs, then again via subscription costs. As a business, they want to keep their circulation to paying subscribers only. Currently, it costs scientists more to publish in open access journals, because those journals do not recuperate their operating costs by subscription fees. In a sense, the researcher (and ultimately the taxpayer) will be charged even more to get the data out.


On another note, many researchers have partial funding from agencies which are not taxpayer funded, like Howard Hughes, American Cancer Society, Alzheimer's Foundation, etc. This is also very common for postdoctoral fellow or graduate student fellowships. So just because a particular area of research got a dime of taxpayer money, does that automatically mean it should all be open access? It's not often easy to figure out the final contribution from multiple funding sources to a specific project.


Most journals actually provide free access to articles after a certain time frame (like six months, or a year). Additionally, most articles that have broad interest are typically well publicized by news outlets (the applicable conclusions from the research, at least). Frankly, I don't think most of Joe. Q. Public gives a damn about the details of 99% of the research articles published, or could even understand it. As a biologist, I'm not sure I could understand most physics papers, for example. This whole bruhaha seems more about some principle that important to some vocal minority than a genuine public concern. In the end, important taxpayer funded research finds the light of day at the appropriate juncture.


Personally, as someone who is proud of his work and wants it to be widely known, open access is great. Practically, I don't think it's THAT big a deal. And I think most journals are doing enough to publicize the broad picture.

Re:Do NOT blame the scientists. (1)

krunk7 (748055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18206502)

I'm new to the research game, just how much does it cost to publish a paper compared to the cost of the research? For example, an alzheimers study I'm working on involves MRI scanning. Each scan takes up a 1 hour slot and costs 600 dollars. The study will take possibly up to 200 scans or more. Will it really cost a significant amount to journals to publish this study compared to the over 100 thousand it cost to create in scan time alone?

As far as peer review, what better peer review then to have the research available to scientists all over the world to comb through and attempt to repeat the results if they choose? Isn't this the core spirit of peer review in the first place? Not a limited panel of experts. For the less expensive research, this may even be a better system as the publishing costs could approach or exceed the cost of the study. With this system, even the "scientist on a budget" could choose to repeat and validate interesting studies.

Why not create a true system of peer review, with open information and the merrit of a study born out not by a small panel of "experts", but by the number of times the results have been validated by respectable members of the scientific community? Let's not forget these experts are the very people who are historically resistant to true ground breaking innovation since acknowledging the validity of such leaps often predicates the fact that they are not so expert after all.

Re:Do NOT blame the scientists. (1)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18210454)

Your point on cost is a good one. As to peer review, I believe it is quite alive and well. For example, a competitor's paper came out in Science last year while mine was still in review elsewhere. His got accepted, I read it, and found that most of his results were not consistent with mine. Moreover, I could figure out why his were an artifact. So, I pulled no punches and hammered the other guy's data in my paper. My paper got published, justice is ultimately served. I think people in our field will be able to appreciate the differences in the two papers (after the fact that both got published). So, in the end, it will be judged by the scientific community.


You want to promote free open access and open peer review. Go for it. You should know that this has not been well embraced by the scientific community, though certain options are available. For example, you could publish your study in a prestigious medical journal, or even Science/Nature etc., or you could go for open acess/open review in PLoS One. PLoS One publishes all articles as long as there are no obvious errors in the methodology. Then, they have a forum/blog/wiki like system of commenting from anyone who registers to comment (for free). So, basically, open access, open review. So far, it's a flop. Do you really want to go that route, or are you more likely to go for Science if your stuff is really that good?

Re:Do NOT blame the scientists. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18212218)

You should know that this has not been well embraced by the scientific community.

Huh? Maybe biology is different (I wouldn't know), but in fields I'm familiar with (physics, math, comp sci, philosophy) almost everyone is in favor of it. Currently, most take ad hoc measures and just publish their preprints (which are rarely any different from the published papers) online. This is no doubt because the current open access journals lack prestige. If that's what you refer to when you say it's not well embraced, then I agree with you, but that is just because of the strangehold journals have on lending weight to papers. It's just a historical artefact that closed journals are those with such weight. As many others have already noted, all the actual work is free, so there's no reason a free access journal couldn't, in time, gain the same prestige. When this happens, I doubt there'll be any scientist who's not in favor of it.

For example, you could publish your study in a prestigious medical journal, or even Science/Nature etc., or you could go for open acess/open review in PLoS One.

Making your paper available on arXiv, your personal web page, or wherever, as well as publishing it in a normal sell-your-first-born type journal is a win-win situation. Except for the journal, of course, but the point is precisely that nobody really cares about the journals. People publish in them because they have to, but wouldn't mind if they were all gone tomorrow.

As for a point in your original post:

Most journals actually provide free access to articles after a certain time frame (like six months, or a year). Additionally, most articles that have broad interest are typically well publicized by news outlets (the applicable conclusions from the research, at least). Frankly, I don't think most of Joe. Q. Public gives a damn about the details of 99% of the research articles published, or could even understand it.

Joe Q. Public probably doesn't give a damn about your research, but do you really think every university in Burma or Zimbabwe can pay for a subscription to Nature? It can even be like this in developed countries. To take a point in case: one of my friends is getting his PhD in statistics from a medical school (since you're a biologist, you can probably figure out what a statistician is doing in such quarters these days). In the course of his research he has discovered that a lot of the stuff he does has unexpected connections to certain branches of math and computer science. However, he can't read the all the papers in the journals that he needs, simply because they are hideously expensive, and he is the only person in the department who needs them. This is at a very prestigious educational institution.

Then we also have the case of the undergrads or complete outsiders. To take an overused example, Einstein worked at the patent office. What if he had worked at a supermarket instead, or some other place without access to journals? Or what if Ramanujan had had access to the journals that Hardy published in? For a current example, would Matrix String Theory exist if Lubos Motl hadn't been able to access arXiv? I've been in that situation myself (by which I mean: without access to the papers I needed, not that I'm an Einstein, Ramanujan or Motl), and it can be extremely frustrating. It's a lot of hassle to write professors personally and explain your circumstances for every paper you need, and even when they do send them to you they are probably breaching some contract of some sort. I don't know what goes on in biology, but in a field like physics, arXiv has had an enormous impact.

In short, this is a huge issue, not just some small inconvenience. You're entitled to your opinion, but personally I would prefer open access for everyone to a cure for cancer, because the amount of research it would stimulate primarily in non-privileged parts of the world might very well have a larger positive effect, on the whole.

Of course, that's just my 2c.

It's not just about the money... (3, Insightful)

cephalien (529516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204484)

Really. I mean, sure, many of the journals make a profit; however, a number of them probably do so via the enormous subscription costs that PhDs (and even graduate students, sometimes) must pay to get access to the paper copies and electronic PDFs from said journal.

Even today in the advent of electronic publishing, it is still a gigantic cost to print each issue; yes, we pay (sometimes hundreds of dollars) per page for things like color micrographs and the like, but considering that many times these journals have readerships that are less than ten thousand (sometimes considerably less) in the entire WORLD, to make these things self-sustaining is difficult at best.

Let us not forget also that the journal editors orchestrate peer review. Certainly you might say that would be simple to resolve, but there are often good reasons why editors will avoid candidates for peer review that might look good to someone who hasn't been doing the job for years. Doctor X might work with Doctor Y, for example. Editors often have an eye to catch situations that might represent conflict of interest and avoid them. This also works in reverse as well. Without some sort of oversight, the less scrupulous researcher could simply send all his or her publications to be peer-reviewed by a friend, who would give them great ratings and send them on to be published online. The problem is that most researchers live in a bit of a vacuum. They work in a rather narrow margin within a field and sometimes get to know others just by the work they've published if it falls along close lines. That would make it very, very hard to objectively self-review (among themselves, that is) publications.

Does it still happen in the current system? I'm sure it does. I also know that bad papers still get published, and good papers are rejected because one of the peer reviewers is working along similar lines and wants to be first to get it out (I've seen this happen).

The system is imperfect, but it provides a structure under which we can have some sort of independent review. Simply tossing everything out in the open sounds good, but would be quite a different issue in practice.

Besides, not to put too fine a point on it, but what is the general public going to do with all of this? The Federal government has required for a long time that the titles of all NSF (maybe NIH too) grants are made available to the public. What happened? People objected because studies were being done with cannibis, or other 'bad' drugs for purely medical reasons. Now we are specifically taught how to word grants so that they don't inflame the 'layperson' and get funding rejected because someone didn't like the title. What do you think will happen when we start touting all the 'free and open access' to papers? People who have no idea what is going on will raise holy hell because mice are being used for experiments or god forbid we're using heroin to test it's effect on X or Y.

I'm all for freedom of information, but I don't see what good this will accomplish.

It's not just about the open. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18207658)

"I'm all for freedom of information, but I don't see what good this will accomplish."

"Open" is the new panacea. Notice how many times open is used on slashdot as a solution without even fully thinking things through. From "open" source to "open" music. If you stick "open" in front of anything? Then there's your solution.

We should bring an end to this publisher thing (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204818)

once and for all. Its SO 18th century to distribute information in the way they are trying to mandate on us. We have the internet now - we can publish anything anywhere with it, not needing them.

journals for a fee yes, but not exlusive rights!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18204832)

I agree with views which say that journal publishers do have a cost of publishing and managing the whole peer-review process. However as research, especially in academic environment, is primarily done "for humankind" and not for earning money on it, I do strongly believe public should have
access to results of research. As an example of a community where stuff works pretty well, I would highlight computer science (at least fields connected with AI which I know best). E.g. Springer, or ACM have policies which allow author to publish his research papers on their own websites, however a reference to the journal on-line version has to be provided and copyright disclaimer has to be put in place properly as well. Sometimes the paper has to be formatted a bit differently than in the journal.

What I am really pissed of are policies of some publishers which take exclusive rights of copyright and do not allow authors publish their own papers on e.g. their homepages. This seems to be a prevalent policy in physics and biology. IMHO we should remove this exclusivity on results of scientific efforts, yet keep the journal model (at least until we find something better).

Finally, I do not believe that such a shift of policies on the side of publishers would harm them anyway. Especially on-line journal digital libraries serve as a primary point of interest when on search for a certain paper and subscription is worth. For example in computer science many are still paying for access to IEEE, ACM and Springer libraries, although many papers can be found on author's pages. The point is that author's pages come and go. Good digital library stays the same. Preferably one paper = unique DOI will stay for a long time as well. Also a well managed journal with an expert editorial board (members of which are indeed proud to be on board and rarely get payed for it) they provides credibility to the results published in them. Therefore they do have a indispensable place under the sun. No doubt about that.

Publishing in society journals (1)

dayjn (942897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204960)

Societies like the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK and also the American Chemical Society are slightly different from the big publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley, etc. The society publishers make a profit, yes, but much of the profits get put back into the field of chemistry for running conferences, research grants, public outreach, etc. It doesn't seem wrong for them to make money on the system as it gets reinvested into something useful and beneficial to science.

Also, these publishers have consistently high standards which is most welcome these days where quality can be quite variable.

The Old Way of Scientific Publishing Needs to Go! (1)

BayaWeaver (1048744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205238)

All the reasons made for the continuation of the status quo are just excuses that benefit only the owners of the journals. One justification for the high cost of the journals is printing. But who really needs to go to the library to read the Journal of Biological Chemistry [jbc.org] or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [pnas.org] in their dead tree format anyway? If a library really needs a paper copy, perhaps they can just send out the PDFs to a third-party printer to print and bind it. I don't think we need Elsevier [elsevier.com] to do the printing and distribution. The internet already performs the distribution process very efficiently. So the traditional for-profit scientific journal publishers need to go the way of blacksmiths and scabbard makers. As for the world's premier science journal, Nature [nature.com] , perhaps Google or the Gates Foundation or Warren Buffet can just ask them what is their projected profit from the sales of subscriptions and archived articles for the next 10 years, pay them twice that amount, secure the copyright to past articles and future publication the journal and hire the entire editorial board. I don't think it would cost a lot. Now that would be a service to mankind.

Re:The Old Way of Scientific Publishing Needs to G (1)

ericleasemorgan (928146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18205942)

BayaWeaver++

Re:The Old Way of Scientific Publishing Needs to G (1)

indiejade (850391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18227124)

Turning the model of publishing inside out

Information wants to be as free as possible. Advertisers want information to be as expensive as possible. The Internet kinda turns the model of traditional publishing "inside out" in that it does not discriminate between the two: information can be advertising, and advertising can be information. Most advertising is useless, hyped, glam. There are some companies that have built their entire brand off of advertising alone.

I think one of the things that has to happen in order for information (even, say, life-saving information which has been discovered by scientists and people like that) to be as free as possible is for the concept of "agents as gatekeepers" to cease. Any time agents (agents are advertisers, by default) are involved, everything gets artificially inflated. Rarely do the people who should benefit actually obtain any benefit when agencies are involved; my employment/career search has proven this to me.

Some do even more (1)

themadhamster (871845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18206270)

All the editors of the math journal Topology, which is an overpriced Elsevier journal, resigned effectively the end of last year: http://www.lehigh.edu/~dmd1/toplet.pdf [lehigh.edu] (pdf warning). Instead the same editors are starting a new, open access journal. I think we will see more of this as more and more scientists are fed up with overpriced, limited access journals, and libraries start dropping subscriptions. We are fully capable of running the journals ourselves, we already do most the work anyway.

Hidden Disdvantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18207442)

Obtaining a faculty position at any research university is a very difficult
undertaking. Opportunities are few and the competition is great. For an
applicant, one of the stringent requirements for obtaining such a position
is often not just the number of relevant publications but the quality.

But how is quality determined?

Ironically, publication in one of the prestigious, and closed, journals
is usually the main indicator of quality. To be accepted by a prestigious
journal means that an author has passed a very rigorous set of review
standards and such acceptance is given great weight by university selection
committees. It often makes the difference in who will be granted a faculty
position and who will not.

I am strongly in favor of free and open publishing, but I also realize
that the equalization that open journals will certainly create may become
a serious detriment to the quality ranking system that is inherent in the
current closed model.

Get rid of research patents!!! (1)

Rotten168 (104565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18207716)

Research patents are turning our school into corporations and the top 5 school are now completely dominant in terms of receiving grants (MIT, Harvard, and a few others).

Highly frustrated researcher (1)

Doug Coulter (754128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18208362)

I'm doing some science as a "hobby" here at my shop (Think Farnsworth fusor and related things). I often need more information than I have to get something right on one of the early tries. When I look for an article, perhaps one I have a name for, or just something I find on Google, I inevitab ly get a useless abstract and the offer to sell it to me for something on the order of $20/page -- this for the pdf, not dead tree.

This even in cases where the research as government funded and done say, in 1935 -- author long dead, unknown copyright status and so on, but the society or publisher feels entitled to get this fee. I'd go bankrupt in no time buying lots of articles that I can't tell contain the information I need from the abstract. This is ridiculous, does not advance science (as many of these societies and publishers state in their mottos) and is surely a major profit center for someone. I cannot afford to subscribe to all these journals and so on, I need some money left over for equipment! I suppose larger outfits do subscribe for the benefit of their employees, but this is yet another case of big vs small with small getting the shaft. Have fun at http://www.coultersmithing.com/ [coultersmithing.com]

Re:Highly frustrated researcher (1)

soroka (794831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18219122)

> I inevitably get a useless abstract and the offer to sell it to me for something on the order of $20/page

In most cases there will also be a list of authors with their respective e-mail addresses, many of whom would be only happy to send you a copy of the paper.

Now what is Valve Software up too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215128)

Why would Valve [valvesoftware.com] want to distribute open scientific research via Steam? [steampowered.com]

It will be interesting to read Dr. Gordon Freeman's research on quantum mechanics from the Black Mesa Research Facility...
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