Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/05/parasitism-vs-progress.html
Consortium of the largest science funders in Europe announce that they'll only fund open access research
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/05/parasitism-vs-progress.html
Also, there’s always the plug for Sci-Hub, which is interested in destroying all barriers to accessing the journal-published scientific corpus. (There’s a bit of a cat-and-mouse game with finding unblocked domains, but server and mirror IP addresses and unblocked domains are frequently advertised on Sci-Hub’s twitter feed.) I for one welcome our Fuck State Capitalism overlords.
# Consortium of the largest science funders in Europe announce that they’ll only fund open access research
I still think it’s scandalous that I should pay $59 for a PDF of 100 year old historical science, and $500/yr for a journal that has yet to generate DOI codes for their earlier work.
With luck and bad will (and a big dollop of MF payback plus a frisson of schadenfreude) this will put downward pressure on pricing by Wiley, Pearson, and similar oligopolists.
This is a good start, but it doesn’t fundamentally solve the problem of predatory journal tactics. To publish an open-access article, many journals charge thousands of euros for a service that basically amounts to putting a fancy theme on your document - they don’t do much in the way of actual editing (and editors are often unpaid volunteers!), and the peer review process is volunteer-based as well. The next step has to be for us to take publishing into our own hands - places like the arXiv/bioarXiv, where researchers can upload articles for comment before they publish properly, are a good start, but at least in this present moment there is a sense that an article isn’t acceptable unless it is peer-reviewed - even though that process is flawed.
I recall reading a while back about something described as “diamond-quality” open-access publishing. Basically, the idea seemed to be to create journals that operate as a front to papers on the arXiv - once a paper has been up there for a while, it can be offered for formal peer review, and, if accepted, the journal would link to a frozen snapshot of that article on the arXiv. I think research institutions could take the lead here by founding more of these journals, and once a significant mass exists, requiring their researchers to publish in them. Ultimately the process of publishing and holding knowledge should be done fully in the public domain, and paid for by research institutions - not individual academics.
As I read it:
This western European consortium of 11 scientific funds disburses €7.6B annually, an amount slightly larger than the combined profits of Elsevier and Wiley. The organization is called Science Europe. Their primary announcement is the ** cOalition-S 10 Principles ** AKA Plan S.
Principle 3 is a vague promise to ensure submission quality.
Principle 10 is a plain threat of sanctions for non-compliance.
The Nature article, a Springer-Verlag publication, complains that the initiative is “removing publishing options from researchers”, as if the current gatekeeper business model is anything but predatory capitalism that removes all other options.
Several umbrella organizations have whined that the quality of research publication will decline so it’s clear that they haven’t read the
99 Theses , uh, Manifesto, I mean Plan S.
Even if this weren’t standard-issue “but now consumers won’t be free to endure my bad deals and usurious tactics!” whining; it seems like it endures a massive “yeah, so?”
There are major problems with the funding party demanding that the results be tailored to suit them; but (even if open access weren’t reasonably popular among researchers) “if you want this public money to do a research project; this public wants access to your results” is a perfectly reasonable demand to impose.
There is an argument to be made, on ‘but what about publish or perish and impact factors?’ grounds in favor of potentially allowing researchers to publish in non-open journals non-exclusively, if they really need that Nature cred; but only if they also published an open version that is the same aside from Nature’s house style/templates.
Funders simply don’t have any obligation to consider “publishing options” as an important criterion. Content-level independence is too important to science to be a ‘customer is always right’ matter; but the terms on which the results must be available are not(also, freer access seems likely to be more helpful than not to scientific progress; at least it will spare the library budgets and cut down on the hassling with samizdat among people who don’t have institutional access to the Platinum Plus Pak journal subscriptions).
Despite NPG diluting their brand with a plethora of journals of the Nature: Fluffy Bunnys type, Nature and a few other journals like Physical Review, or The Lancet continue to top the impact factor ratings. But I wonder how the median impact factors compare between OA and for profit journals? My guess is that they are much closer.
Of course don’t get me started on how stupid using the impact factor of a journal is to judge the quality of an article published within that journal is. That too is essentially looking at an average and assuming that says something meaningful about the median, or even the lowest quintile.
If you haven’t glossed it, the original article with all the big guy whinging intact is at Nature.
Explicit URL = https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06178-7
Translated “wah wah, we want our free monies”.
Motherfuckers, the free lunch is coming to an end. If you want exclusive rights to publish research and ask people to pay for it, then you should be funding the research. Full stop.
There is more to publishing scientific journals then just posting “free” content and charging for it. The main expense for publishers (outside of protecting content from SciHub) is providing that content in a way that will be accessible for hundreds of years. That content must be indexed and the citation counts must be maintained in a way that complies with all the various regulations throughout the world.
“Free” editor and peer review work has to be coordinated. And a system for all those people to work together has to be built and maintained. This also provides a “paper” trail in cases where there are disagreements about who published first or who didn’t properly credit other research.
The system is far from perfect. But if you are upset by having to pay for articles, don’t. Go find the papers you want on the author’s websites or email the authors and request a copy. Google indexes everything that is published. Sci Hub is just Napster, it is an easy to use interface that does all the work for you. Your’re not sticking it to the man by using it. You are proving to the man that there is even more demand for their product than they realized.
I was under the impression that most of the indexing was not done by the journal publishers. Some is done by the government (agricola, pubmed) some by societies (inspec) and some by other publishers (web of science). This is not to say that there isn’t a cost to publication. It certainly should be cheaper than dead trees and hot lead, after all, it is far cheaper to accept a LaTex file than to hire somebody to hand set equations from a manuscript. And it is not to say that the open access world is not polluted by a number of predatory publishers that CLAIM to do peer review. But in this day and age, putting the toll booth between the between the publisher and the reader rather than between the author and the publisher doesn’t make much sense. If there is a problem with “publish or perish” than the publisher should be charging the person who’s career is at stake.
In the internet age, publishers should see themselves more as a hosting platform than owners of information.
The contention is not that one has to pay for content but that the system in place is predatory gatekeeping. I saw ACS’ unencumbered article prices go from $27 to $39 over a two year period, eventually to stabilize at $59. This profiteering assured that Sci-Hub and similar would flourish.
“Institutional” is only moderately better than pharmaceutical pricing because of elastic demand. If the cheap drives out the dear, it’s because the dear is outrageously costly.
Really the grant writers should include an allowance for reasonable page charges as part of the grant as well as insisting on open access. Of course the for-profit publishers wouldn’t like that because the grantors have a much better bargaining position than individual authors and libraries.
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