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Government United Kingdom Wikipedia Your Rights Online

Jimmy Wales Backs UK Government Bid To Free Academic Data 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the public-data dept.
judgecorp writes "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is helping a UK government bid to make the results of Government funded research available freely online. The move taps into a popular protest at the restrictions which academic publishers place on the availability of research. From the article: 'Almost 11,000 researchers have signed up to a boycott of journals owned by the huge academic publisher Elsevier. Subscriptions to the thousands of research journals can cost a big university library millions of pounds each year – costs that have started to bite as budgets are squeezed. Harvard University, frustrated by the rising costs of journal subscriptions, recently encouraged its faculty members to make their research freely available through open access journals and to resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls.'"
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Jimmy Wales Backs UK Government Bid To Free Academic Data

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  • Wait ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:50AM (#39876843)

    Jimmy Wales? The guy where people paid millions every year so they'd get rid of him for the next eleven or so months again?

    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:51AM (#39876849) Homepage Journal

      No, that's just Wales.

    • Jimmy Wales? The guy where people paid millions every year

      Dear lord, how big is he?

      (please do not follow with a sexual innuendo, if possible)

    • Re:Wait ... (Score:5, Funny)

      by David Gerard (12369) <slashdotNO@SPAMdavidgerard.co.uk> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @07:40AM (#39877325) Homepage

      Jimmy Wales does not sleep. He waits for your money.
      Jimmy Wales’ tears cure lack of funding. Too bad he only cries in November and December.
      There is no chin behind Jimmy Wales’ beard. There is only another “donate” button.
      Jimmy Wales doesn’t do pushups — he gets your donation.
      When the Bogeyman goes to sleep every night, he clutches the printout of his Wikipedia donation receipt as he checks his closet for Jimmy Wales.
      Jimmy Wales does not go hunting donations, because the word “hunting” implies the possibility of failure. Jimmy Wales goes collecting donations.
      Jimmy Wales sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled fundraising ability. When the deal had been done, Jimmy looked the devil lovingly in the eye and got his soul donated back.
      Jimmy Wales not only gave Objectivists a nice reputation, he got them to donate to his charity out of enlightened self-interest.
      The Wikimedia Foundation can build a funding drive out of paper clips, rubber bands and soda cans. And does so, every year.
      If you can see Jimmy Wales, he can see you. If you can’t see Jimmy Wales, you may be only seconds away from donating.

  • by fantomas (94850) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:01AM (#39876867)

    But research funding in UK universities - given to them by the government - is to a large part determined by the researchers and academics recent publishing record in high impact journals, i.e. those run by people like Elsevier. The government analysis of how well your university research departments are performing (and therefore how much money they will give you in the next round of funding) is dependent on you showing you've published lots of journal articles in hiigh impact journals.

    You can publish all you want in open educational archives but until these are considered high impact and valued by the government, then academics will continue to have to deal with the paid for journals. The government needs to make sure that as well as promoting open access of government research - which will be great - that they also acknowledge the value of research being presented in open access archives.

    I'd really prefer to publish all my work in open access archives but I know that if I want to look good in my university and make my cv look good for when I have to look for the next fixed term contract, then I need to be publishing in the paid for journals. This is slowly starting to change, but it would be great if the government made a much stronger formal recognition of the value of open resources with respect to funding criteria.

    • This.

      The only true way out of this situation is for there to be established open access journals that are also high impact. Some journals allow the authors to elect to use an open access option for additional cost. Whether the charges are at the right level I really don't know, but it's definitely an option. However, if you're publishing in a traditional high-impact journal that has the open access option, please use it!

      • how about the people giving the funding follow what the fuck the research has been up to? that's easiest to do if they're forced to publish the results openly.

        the logic behind with the force to publish on prestigious journal is that the journal would do the quality checking for the funder, that the funder wouldn't need to bother with checking what they're funding then because the journal magically does that with magic peer review. this system doesn't quite work though and all important research would stand

    • by Nithron (661003)

      The aim is that, even if an academic publishes their work in a traditional subscription journal, a version of their article would simultaneously appear on the freely available repository.

      It looks like they want the info published in the high impact journals, but also in the national archive. This sidesteps the whole "looking bad on a CV or research grant application" problem. Unless there's some licensing issue with the big journals, but you'd imagine the government could deal with that. Maybe.

    • So the government wants you to publish your stuff in open journals, but they wont fund your research unless you publish in closed journals.

      Did I mention how much I love the government?
    • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @06:49AM (#39877105)

      The main reason to publish your article in a pay-for journal is to get peer review. Which is why the key phrase is "published in a peer-reviewed journal". You're paying for the trust.

      You could establish a system of trusted peer reviews that didn't depend on paid journals quite readily. You could even make it difficult to fake by employing cryptographic signatures. What's more, an online system wouldn't have to stop at the board of reviewers employed by the journal - any interested party could add their own review, taking into account that a more widely trusted reviewer in the field would carry more weight. You could even add cryptographically signed "debunkings".

      Trust is the main commodity that journals trade in, but it's mostly a facade produced by glossy printing - who actually checks our the credentials of peer reviewers?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The main reason to publish your article in a pay-for journal is to get peer review.

        If only there were open access peer reviewed journals [google.com].

      • There are peered open journals, and peers for pay journals are not paid. Pay journals are relying on legacy rent.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Trust is the main commodity that journals trade in, but it's mostly a facade produced by glossy printing - who actually checks our the credentials of peer reviewers?"

        No, that's not true. It is a "web of trust" created by the smallness of highly-specialized disciplines. Scientific research topics are (usually) so narrow that only a few people in the world are looking at the same questions, and they all tend to know each other, at least by reputation. The editors of journals have a good knowledge of who h

    • by gtall (79522)

      The problem Open Access journals need to solve is the vetting problem. Anyone can post their brain-damaged research if there are no gate keepers. Currently, the journals do that through the servitude of the rest of the researchers. And gatekeeping is against the spirit of open. Also, who is going to fund all these open access journals. Staff to support the journals, admins to run the servers, web site people, power for the servers, retirement accounts for people working on the journals, etc.

      So if government

  • by l3v1 (787564) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:07AM (#39876883)
    frustrated by the rising costs of journal subscriptions

    Yeah, sounds like a "solution". Shift fees from the University budget (i.e. library) of subscribing for journals unto the researchers and labs paying the open access publication fees from their own research budgets (we're talking thousands of dollars per publication here).

    I am a researcher, and I also hate the unfair fees publishers require for journal subscriptions, but I will never submit an article to an "open access" journal.
    • Maybe "Open access" should not be understood as "anyone submits anything, Wikipedia-style", but more "anyone can read any approved publication"?
      • by l3v1 (787564)
        Maybe "Open access" should not be understood as "anyone submits anything, Wikipedia-style", but more "anyone can read any approved publication"?

        Yeah, that understanding is already there, problem is that if you suddenyl change the model from "publish for free, subscribe to read" into "publish for 4000USD, read for free", then most researchers (at least the most of whom I know) will just stop publishing. Sad but true.

        One, there is no funding agency at the moment who would fund you thousands of dollars/eu
    • Re:rising costs (Score:4, Informative)

      by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:26AM (#39876919) Homepage

      Shift fees from the University budget (i.e. library) of subscribing for journals unto the researchers and labs paying the open access publication fees from their own research budgets (we're talking thousands of dollars per publication here).

      It has to be budgeted for. It has to be beaten into funding agencies heads that this is a shift of where costs are being borne with an aim to deliver better results to the general public overall. This "beating into heads" is what is happening now.

      Alas, costs at research institutes rise in the transition period because of the need to keep access to paywalled stuff for the time being. There's really no way to avoid that while remaining competitive, but it should reduce general overheads eventually. (Yeah, "should"...)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The actual cost of publishing is spectacularly inflated right now.

        it's like saying that making an encyclopedia is expensive so you only shift the cost if you stop charging for access, part of the problem is that the big journals effectively trade purely on the fact that they're prestigious. it isn't that what they provide is actually expensive.

        and anyway, the cost of paying up front tends to be pretty low vs a normal research budget.
        1000-2000 for a reasonably high end journal the last I submitted and the co

        • by l3v1 (787564)
          and anyway, the cost of paying up front tends to be pretty low vs a normal research budget.

          You might (I don't know) refer to US research projects, but we have to think global here. Let's just take a 3 year project, let it be a one man project, in which you publish 3 journal articles and go to 12 conferences. The 3 "open access" journal publications would cost more than 12 overseas conferences, which no sane funder would accept. And if you take into consideration that those journals don't have any impact
          • And if you think of a 3 year research project with 10 consortium members (I've just finished such one), where publication numbers can go up exponentially

            I sincerely hope your subject isn't anything mathematical.

          • by delt0r (999393)

            The 3 "open access" journal publications would cost more than 12 overseas conferences

            Either you get free air travel, or you publish somewhere insane, or can't do math. Even nature and Science offer open access for about 2k. That is only 6k. You can do a 12 conferences for 6k? The registration fees alone can cost more than that.

            • by l3v1 (787564)
              Either you get free air travel, or you publish somewhere insane, or can't do math.

              Thanks :)

              Even nature and Science offer open access for about 2k. That is only 6k. You can do a 12 conferences for 6k? The registration fees alone can cost more than that.

              Oh, you mean everyone who matters publishes in Nature and Science? Right. In my field most journals that matter and have good impact do not offer pre-paid "open access" publication options. Journals that do, they don't matter, don't have impact, and fe
    • by olau (314197)

      Research is expensive in the first place. With the current model, the losers are everyone outside research circles, that is people who do not have easy access to university libraries.

      Of course, if you're a researcher, you don't see this. But I tell you that it doesn't really help dissemination of information when you can't even access a possibly interesting paper without paying 35$. Maybe you don't think that's a problem, but you aren't going to pay out of your own pocket either, are you?

    • Why do you think it's going to be expensive? The amount journals pay reviewers now is typically a token sum, and usually goes into some kind of general budget so there's no direct financial incentive to do reviews - you do them because being asked to review papers for a respected journal is an indication of status. I've submitted a paper to an open access journal. The reviews were not paid for. The editor was someone at the top of the field, as are the others involved in running the journal, and if one

      • by delt0r (999393)

        The amount journals pay reviewers now is typically a token sum,

        Having done a lot of reviewing myself, and off course so do my colleagues, I have *never* heard of anyone getting paid for it. Not a dime. Ever. Some editors do get paid for the big journals, but even then a lot don't.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      pray tell, if you're a researcher why can't you just publish the results - I mean, just publish. put it on a paper. ebook. website. whatever, with clauses that would allow for other people to submit the work to any journal they want if they want after they had read it. not counting the reason "it was mandated by the funding contract", but from the practical putting eyeballs on the material viewpoint, that's what peer review is for anyways?
      and if it is the kind of research nobody would bother to even look at

    • by delt0r (999393)
      Seriously if your biggest problem is that you can't afford the ~1k to 2k for page charges since you are publishing so much. You have nothing to complain about. We are paid salaries after all which will dwarf that, hell even the air con is probably costing more.
  • Taxed tax (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Weatherlawyer (2596357) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:14AM (#39876909) Journal
    You can't get hold of the MetOffice North Atlantic weather chart until it is at least an hour out of date.

    Not.

    You can go to a German or Dutch site and see it almost as soon as it is prepared but on the British site you have to wait 7 hours.

    AND you are not allowed to show it to anyone too neither, unless you have paid AGAIN for a copyright.

  • Not what it seems! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ribuck (943217) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:42AM (#39876945) Homepage

    If the government really wanted tax-funded information to be free, they would just declare that it was public domain. Society would find a way to disseminate that information at zero cost to the taxpayer.

    Instead, this looks like a bureaucratic project designed to take years and absorb lots of taxpayer's money, while giving the illusion of making information nominally "free" but retaining control, and giving Jimmy a high-profile ego-stroke in the hope that he may moderate his objection to internet censorship.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It had to happen, I used to work at one of these Academic Journal publishers, they used to practically double their pricing every year because they knew the Universities had to purchase their journals.

    The authors got nothing for their work but it was big money for each journal, at some point the internet had to win out, no reason why someone cannot come up with a modified version of Wikipedia that has full blown peer review functionality that provides the functionality the authors expect.

    Serves the publishe

  • by whydavid (2593831) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @06:14AM (#39877023)
    Journals need quality research or they stop being quality journals. If the government mandates a price ceiling for access to government-funded research (as opposed to mandating free access), I think you'd find more and more publishers agreeing to come in under the price ceiling in the face of seeing multi-million dollar research projects publishing their results in competitor x's journal. You can't expect journals to publish for free, and the quality of open-access journals isn't up to par with the paid journals, but you might be able to get some of both worlds if you can stop journals from taking egregious markups.
    • by olau (314197)

      For the same reason that libraries exist. It is in the best interest of society that people read and learn as much as possible, and it is a paywall, even a small one, has a huge effect. Imagine you had to pay a dollar to view a web page. How much web browsing would you do then?

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @06:48AM (#39877101) Homepage

    Jesus wept, in two years we'll all be commuting to moon meetings in fusion powered flying cars.

    Trust a government to over-complicate things. But some racks, install a Wiki, job done.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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