Punishments for scientists who don't make research open access


Just a clarification – PubMed and PubMed Central are not the same thing. PubMed is a database of abstracts and author information that nearly every biology/medical paper gets recorded in upon publication, whether the paper is freely available or not. PubMed Central is the database of freely available papers with full text. It’s depositing the paper in PubMed Central that’s the issue, not just being in PubMed.


Thank you. I thought I typed the “central”. Apparently not. Will fix it.


It doesn’t sound to me like any scientists are being “punished” for anything. It just sounds like they’re being required to make the work paid for with government grants available to the public that paid for those grants if the scientists want to continue receiving grant money. They’re just being forced to deliver the product that was paid for to the people who paid for it, or else stop receiving patronage from those customers. It’s not “punishment”, it’s how the most very basic capitalism works.


I wish this weren’t being called a “punishment.” In my experience, this is aways due to an oversight or a simple error. What usually happens is that an author will receive an e-mail from the funding agency saying something like, “During an audit of your grant, we’ve noticed that such and such a paper has not been submitted to PMC. Failure to submit your article could result in a denial of future funding.” Then the author freaks out and e-mails the journal’s editorial office. Then an editor checks the funding disclosures and finds that the "NIH"or whatever box wasn’t checked. Then the error is fixed and the manuscript is deposited to PMC.

“Punishment” implies that authors are trying to avoid open access. I can’t imagine any author who, when faced with a clear and explicit choice, would choose to avoid open access.

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A working of capitalism that is enforced… via a punishment.

Of course, some journals don’t have an option to automatically submit to PMC, and the government site for doing so yourself is cumbersome, poorly built, and prone to sending your manuscript into perpetual “processing” limbo. So the real punishment for scientists is dealing with the website.

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It’s a great thing, but I wish theyd iron some of the bugs out. My NIH continuation funding got held up because one of the articles I published (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6106a1.htm, first article) from funded work was in the CDC’s Morbitity and Mortality Weekly (MMWR), a journal which has always been completely public access, but which isn’t deposited in Pubmed Central. And technically the CDC is the ‘author’ of MMWR (actual authors are listed at the end of the article as “Reported by: name, name”), so there’s no way for an author to initiate the process of having a paper deposited in Pubmed Central… Anyway, it took me weeks of phonecalls to sort that one out…


This will apply to the ones who think they’ve given their rights to the JOURNAL rather than their first master, the NIH who funded their research. Or not necessarily the authors personally, but perhaps their institutions, who might be under a different impression of rights to the work.

The Elseviers of the world have gotten to the fruits of scientific labors years and years ago. It’s only now that people have woken up and started to complain that the results of publicly funded research are getting paywalled into private hands. After, what? 50 years of this? At least it’s a step.

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That’s totally annoying, BUT, I glanced at your paper. Nice work! Good job!

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