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Open Access For Research Gaining Steam 64

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the popularity-contests dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that open access to research is gaining steam as more than 20,000 people, including Nobel Prize winners, have signed a petition calling for greater access to publicly-funded research. While publishers are fighting open access, a growing number of funding agencies and universities are making it a mandatory requirement."
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Open Access For Research Gaining Steam

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  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Friday March 02, 2007 @12:36AM (#18203814) Journal
    The link I had to click was already clicked by me, and I think it was because I read it earlier on Slashdot.
  • Meat and potatoes. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "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)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by l3v1 (787564)
      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
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        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 ve
      • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Friday March 02, 2007 @05:07AM (#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.
      • ...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 involve

      • 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

      • 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).
  • Seen it (Score:5, Informative)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Friday March 02, 2007 @12:49AM (#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 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chacham (981) on Friday March 02, 2007 @12:50AM (#18203888) Homepage Journal
    Open Access For Research Gaining Steam

    First steam, maybe they'll get electricity soon?
  • On the one hand... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Etherwalk (681268) on Friday March 02, 2007 @12:58AM (#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.
    • by Aardpig (622459)

      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...

    • by Coryoth (254751) on Friday March 02, 2007 @01:13AM (#18203994) Homepage Journal

      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.
      • by shura57 (727404) * on Friday March 02, 2007 @02:25AM (#18204268) Homepage
        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.
        • by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Friday March 02, 2007 @04:34AM (#18204782) Homepage
          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: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by lukesl (555535)
            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 p
            • by blakestah (91866)
              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/f
        • by kabocox (199019)
          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 becau
      • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Friday March 02, 2007 @02:31AM (#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: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        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.
      • You do realise that refereeing for journals is often unpaid work work right?

        Paid by the word, are we we?
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        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
    • by ChemE (1070458) on Friday March 02, 2007 @02:20AM (#18204250) Homepage
      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]
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday March 02, 2007 @02:27AM (#18204280) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • 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 p

  • ... kill the conversation. Now the comments on a single FA are spread over the comments on two stories.
  • by Somnus (46089) on Friday March 02, 2007 @01:20AM (#18204020)
    Allow me to cite an earlier source [slashdot.org].
  • Open Research Gaining Steam, eh? Sounds great; maybe I'll be able to play Half-Life on the lab computers!
  • FireHose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob54321 (911744) on Friday March 02, 2007 @01:35AM (#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.
  • by Puff Daddy (678869) on Friday March 02, 2007 @02:07AM (#18204212)
    Bioinformatics, especially genomics, has been open from the beginning. It's about time the rest of science caught up.
  • by posterlogo (943853) on Friday March 02, 2007 @03:12AM (#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.

    • by krunk7 (748055)

      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 resea

      • 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
  • by cephalien (529516) <benjaminlungerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 02, 2007 @03:15AM (#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.
  • 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.
  • 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 consistentl
  • 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 nee
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 --

    • by soroka (794831)
      > 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.

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