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Library Journal Board Resigns On "Crisis of Conscience" After Swartz Death 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-not-gonna-take-it dept.
c0lo writes "The editor-in-chief and entire editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration announced their resignation last week, citing 'a crisis of conscience about publishing in a journal that was not open access' in the days after the death of Aaron Swartz. The board had worked with publisher Taylor & Francis on an open-access compromise in the months since, which would allow the journal to release articles without paywall, but Taylor & Francis' final terms asked contributors to pay $2,995 for each open-access article. As more and more contributors began to object, the board ultimately found the terms unworkable. The journal's editor-in-chief said 'After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor & Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $2995 per article fee to be paid by the author. As you know, this is not a viable licensing option for authors from the LIS community who are generally not conducting research under large grants.'"
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Library Journal Board Resigns On "Crisis of Conscience" After Swartz Death

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  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:00PM (#43298273)

    Thank you for standing up for what you believe in, guys! Commencing replacement with yes-men who will heed the siren call of their corporate profiteering overlords in 5...4...3...

  • by thesupraman (179040) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:09PM (#43298337)

    Lets hope the same editorial board is sool working at a 'new' journal, the Open Journal of Library Administration, available only online/free.
    Wouldnt that be a somewhat simple solution?

    Publishers want to protect 'their' cash cow, but its not theirs to protect. not much of a surprise really.

    • Is there a ready-to-go open-source online journal package?

      • by ksrage (229189)

        Open Journal Systems, http://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs

        They are currently working on version 3 with an updated interface among other things.

    • Lets hope the same editorial board is sool working at a 'new' journal, the Open Journal of Library Administration, available only online/free.

      Unless you have a stable funding model... I suspect they'll be working at jobs where they can feed their families and keep a roof over their head.

      Admire them for what they did, but don't fool yourself into believing that money doesn't matter to real people in the real world.

      • Ah, you mean just like they were before?

        Or do you think that those positions were their primary employment?
        I think you have a lot to learn about academic journals and positions...

        • Just to prove the point...

          http://library.columbia.edu/news/libraries/2008/20080619_jaggars.html

          'Damon Jaggars Appointed New Associate University Librarian for Collections and Services at Columbia'

          Sounds like a viable day-job to me...

      • Unless you have a stable funding model... I suspect they'll be working at jobs where they can feed their families and keep a roof over their head.

        Admire them for what they did, but don't fool yourself into believing that money doesn't matter to real people in the real world.

        It's also good to not fool yourself into thinking you know more than shit about what your talking about.
        Or as Lincoln put it, "when in a room full of people who think you are an idiot, it's better to keep quiet then open your mouth and remove any doubt."

        In terms opf the p[resent argument, if the editors of the journal work as an overwhelming majority of editors of academic journals ( and they might not, I didn't even know that there were active library science researchers ), then they weren't getting paid

  • ...but how do you pay for the Journal?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, who could possibly afford something that requires all the resources of an email list or barely active online forum? Hopefully they figure out how to re-brand this as a military expense, where it can get the billions of dollars of funding needed.

      • Hopefully they figure out how to re-brand this as a military expense, where it can get the billions of dollars of funding needed.

        Hopefully they figure out how to re-brand this as an entitlement expense, where it can get the tens of dollars of funding needed.

    • by godrik (1287354) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:21PM (#43298441)

      The things is that there is mostly nothing to be paid. the editor-in-chief and the editorial board is not generally paid. The reviewers are not paid. Most readers access electronic versions and the paper version are almost never opened. So the actual cost is extremely low for the publisher. The only thing the publisher provide now a days is grammar check and spell check and text layouting. Anybody that worked in the field would tell you that mostly that part of the job is not properly done, especially text layouting. I often need multiple rounds with the publisher before I agree on their text layout.

      So in brief they do not produce anything of value on the documentitself. They do print it but nobody cares. They do provide web access. But that could be done as the physicists do by publishing everything in arxiv first.

      • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:31PM (#43298487) Homepage Journal

        Thats a fair point. So where is the money going?

        • by godrik (1287354) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:37PM (#43298539)

          That's a good question. I'd say marketing new journals. And I guess paying folks at the publisher which are doing other things (like book publishing).

          It does not seem to go to shareholders as far as I can see.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Joe Decker (3806)

          Printing, even if it's rarely used, can have significant up-front costs. I'd still like to see an accounting, though.

          • by deimtee (762122)
            Printing is dirt cheap. Mailing the hardcopies out is likely to cost more than printing them.
            • Printing is not "cheap" unless its done in house. Depending on the binding and the number of pages the costs may range between a few bucks and up. Let's say there isa modest run of 20,000 and you have a healthy up front cost which borders on an annual salary.
        • Thats a fair point. So where is the money going?

          The pockets of the publishers.
          Did you really need me to tell you that?

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          the publishing/printing house that had managed to get this sweet deal with the journal that lets them dictate what the journal does.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        There are two things a publisher actually does:
        1. "face" - sort-of poses as "uninterested/impartial 3rd party, between authors and reviewers"
        2. "guarantees the permanence" of the published information - sort-of an archivist.

        Both of them are minor and easy (cheaper) to replaceable: first is actually only a pose (the authors/reviewers live and die by their professional ethic), second: a contribution to the archive.org will be cheaper than paying a publisher.

      • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:49PM (#43298613) Journal

        The only thing the publisher provide now a days is grammar check and spell check

        As a researcher who has read hundreds, possibly thousands of journal articles, I say bollocks. Maybe Nature Publishing Group journals do a thorough spelling and grammar check, but all the others (in the field of chemistry, materials science and nanotechnology at least) do not.

        • You may have read thousands of journal articles, but did you bother reading the parents' next sentence, where he states:

          Anybody that worked in the field would tell you that mostly that part of the job is not properly done

          • Well, the whole quote is actually:

            Anybody that worked in the field would tell you that mostly that part of the job is not properly done, especially text layouting.

            So I thought the author wanted to emphasize layouting. I had (and still have) a gripe with poor orthography and grammar, that is so merrily left unadulterated in the final version of so many manuscripts.

        • by necro81 (917438)

          As a researcher who has read hundreds, possibly thousands of journal articles, I say bollocks. Maybe Nature Publishing Group journals do a thorough spelling and grammar check, but all the others (in the field of chemistry, materials science and nanotechnology at least) do not.

          Well, if you guys could please refrain from creating new compounds and substances whose names are 50 characters of gobbledigook, it would be much easier. 18-bromo-12-butyl-11-chloro-4,8-diethyl-5-hydroxy-15-methoxytricos-6,13-diene- [wikipedia.org]

      • by delt0r (999393)
        Well it would be nice if there servers stayed up and provided the content for at least a few decades. Fast pipes and stable sites are not free or even almost free. Yes i would like cheaper page charges. But seriously, the 1-2k is nothing compared to just about anything else. Including salary's, computers, lab equipment, travel etc.
    • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:31PM (#43298489) Homepage

      ...but how do you pay for the Journal?

      What is there to pay for?

      • the authors are academics that are being paid from a grant or by their employer -- they're not being paid by the journal;
      • the authors typeset their paper themselves, using TeX or a word processor;
      • the reviewers are fellow academics, who are not paid by the journal (they're usually anonymous, so they don't even receive kudos for their work);
      • discussion happens mostly over e-mail, which is already paid for.

      So what remains is the salary of the editor and some administrative overhead, which should not be too onerous for even a minor institution.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ...but how do you pay for the Journal?

        What is there to pay for?

        • the authors are academics that are being paid from a grant or by their employer -- they're not being paid by the journal;
        • the authors typeset their paper themselves, using TeX or a word processor;
        • the reviewers are fellow academics, who are not paid by the journal (they're usually anonymous, so they don't even receive kudos for their work);
        • discussion happens mostly over e-mail, which is already paid for.

        So what remains is the salary of the editor and some administrative overhead, which should not be too onerous for even a minor institution.

        Publisher's roles nowadays:
        1. Archiving - longer term storage of the articles; and
        2. go-between authors and reviewers, so that the reviewers can be anonymous to the authors... (possible problems otherwise along the range of "reciprocal back scratching, who cares about science" or the "mortal foes forever, scientific truth be damned" extremes).

        Both of them easy to replace nowadays (for an "online only, download and print when you want it on your own printer" type of journal).

        • by cwebster (100824)

          1 - yes
          2 - no, that is the editor's job, and he is just as unpaid as the authors and reviewers. And so are his assistants.

        • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @10:46PM (#43299265)
          You forgot "Go to conferences and trade shows and spend a lot to promote the brand."

          At a recent huge research conference, I went to a bar. Didn't know it until I walked in, I was meeting some colleagues there, but it was open bar, paid for by a major journal for researchers to try to woo them into publishing there. I enjoyed the booze, which was paid for by the journal, which got paid from universities and researchers buying back research that they had done, which in turn was paid for (both parts) by grants, which was paid by the taxpayer.

          I was a little sick the next day at that realization. Also the whiskey. And a cold, you'd think thousands of biologists would be better at keeping germs from spreading between themselves.
      • by tsa (15680)

        I never typeset my papers myself. Many Journals offer special templates for Word and Latex to use, but I never even look at them. I pay US$ 100,- per page on average and I refuse to do all the work a publisher has to do beside that. I never had any troubles with that.

      • by Gkeeper80 (71079)

        Here's a good list of what journal publishers do - http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/07/18/a-proposed-list-60-things-journal-publishers-do/ [sspnet.org]

        The things that strikes me most about these discussions is the question of what we want our journals (and your articles) to be. Are we looking for a race to the cheapest possible publishing systems or are we looking to maintain an environment where there is true incentive to compete for business and continual improvement to the authoring/reading experience?

        Anyone

    • by tsa (15680)

      Information does not want anything. Some people want information to be free, usually because they're too cheap to pay for the Justin Bieber songs they download.

    • by fantomas (94850) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:48AM (#43301035)

      I'd like to see some evidence that publishing a journal requires each article to be costed at 2995 dollars (a suspicious looking figure to me).

      I'm an academic. I get asked to peer review articles for free. We do it as part of our workload. I have colleagues who edit journals. They do this for free. I author articles: I do this within the costs of my project, the journal gets my article for free. Authors work for free, reviewers work for free, editors work for free. It's just the production and publicity team that get paid (the publishing house). We don't even expect them to roll the presses and produce paper versions these days, we are happy with web links to PDFs.

      So we need to think hard about what the costs are in putting an online journal live onto the internet.

      Why do academics continue to publish in closed journals? because generally they are still the high impact ones (with a very few exceptions). So I, and many other contract researchers like me, tend to publish in closed journals because these look better on the cv. Philosophical high ground is all well and good but when you've got a child to feed and a house to pay for you have to be pragmatic and keep in a job.

      I can imagine this might change over the next 20 years or so as more and more folk start open access journals and they are gradually given greater impact ratings.

      Personally I think we're going to see a few universities taking the lead with open access journals and this might break into the monopoly held by a small number of publishers right now. If you're doing it not-for-profit you can do it cheaper than a commercial publishing house that has to show profit to its shareholders.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I understand that you need some quality control and facilitate peer review and whatnot, but is there really no way to make that work in some way that doesn't involve these journals/publishers?

    • Lots of things would be nicer if you didn't have to pay for them.

    • by SteveFoerster (136027) <steve AT hiresteve DOT com> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:41PM (#43298563) Homepage

      Yes. Have journals be online, for example using free software for that purpose like Open Journal Systems [pkp.sfu.ca], and have faculty members run them as part of their job description. Some successful and long running journals already operate this way.

    • by godrik (1287354) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:42PM (#43298571)

      There certainly are ways to do that. But it would require the community to move away from them. As a recently hired assistant professor, my tenure will be evaluated partially based on my publication track in "good journals". So I will publish wherever my tenure commitee believe is good. Currently this happens to be where publishers are.

      • But some journals are starting to offer open-access publishing options, you just pay as the author. I can't remember which, but one journal I was looking at publishing required $2k to put your journal article on their website without a paywall.

        At the time, I was skeptical that it would pay off, and published it regular-like. But since then, I've had a few researchers I didn't know e-mail me, asking for the PDF. It wasn't a journal article with a particularly broad audience, so I'm wondering if I reall
      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        What a sheep. Perhaps you should argue that you should be judged on the quality of your research.

        Fear is what keeps people imprisoned.

    • As someone previously pointed out, physicists have been coming close with arXiv ( and it's predecessors ) for 30 years.
      It's much cheaper and easier now, then it was back then.

      The main thing you need is a bit of funding, but if the funding agencies were to reduce grants by 90% of what goes into paying for these journals ( publishing fees, library expenditures on journals, access fees to journal articles ) and give out grants ( from that 90%, after a few years I figure very little would be needed ) to people

    • by hweimer (709734)

      I think for low-profile journals which are edited by active scientists, it shouldn't be a problem to move to something like arXiv overlay journals, which comes as close to free as you can get. High-profile journals like Nature and Science, however, are a completely different story. Here, you have full-time editors paid by the journals who actually have to do tricky tasks such as finding good referees who will not reject a paper on political grounds or promote a paper because it was written by one of their p

      • High-profile journals like Nature and Science, however, are a completely different story. Here, you have full-time editors paid by the journals who actually have to do tricky tasks such as finding good referees who will not reject a paper on political grounds ...

        Good one. ROFLMAO

        Oh wait. You don't want referees rejecting papers on political grounds... IOW you don't want referees usurping an editors privilege I get it now.

    • by reimero (194707)

      There is. One publisher actually got mostly out of the publishing business and transformed itself into a digital repository/digital publishing vendor. While I realize this isn't exactly an open source solution, it does create a viable turnkey solution that fully supports the double-blind peer review process out of the box. I fully recognize that there are legitimate discussions to be had about Freedom and such, but I figure it's also worth mentioning that there are solutions out there that enable self-pu

  • Got nothing but good thoughts for these blokes. Some one in position did something good.
  • Fire your publisher and get a better one. There are numerous options available.

  • Unreasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by puddingebola (2036796) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:29PM (#43298479) Journal
    Why did they only make it $2995? Why didn't they make it $190,000 and a free ride in a helicopter to Disneyworld? Ask for the real money. On the other hand, they did come in under $3000, which the Ronco corporation knew was the key to selling lots of Ginsu knives. Only $19.95.
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:30PM (#43298485)
    Um, it doesn't take a genius to see that you're not exactly making a great offer: "Our journal will publish your article into the public domain! Now fork out $3000 for the privilege!" I don't think board needed many reasons of conscience to resign. They were probably more like: "Hey, let's stop working for these idiots!"
    • by godrik (1287354) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:43PM (#43298583)

      This is actually a common things in academic journals. When I publish a paper, I have the "opportunity" of making the paper "open access" by paying some amount of money. It is a fairly standard practice.

      • by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @09:48PM (#43298951)

        It seems reasonable that a publisher would have to recover costs and make a profit. If they can not recover it from subscription the only other choice is to charge contributors. Publishers are not charities. According to this annual report [informa.com] Taylor & Francis' parent compant made a 27% profit in the Academic Information sector and 7% overall. Without that cash cow the company is not viable.

        • by godrik (1287354)

          Oh! thanks for that information. I was looking for it and could not find it. That document is real corporate document. With chunks of reall corporateness in it.

        • I suspect it goes something like this:

          In the 1980s, the commercial scientific publishers discovered that they could keep raising their subscription rates at well above inflation, and university libraries would keep paying them. So not only did their profits soar, but their expectation for future revenue increases also soared. On the basis of this, the companies were rated as being very valuable and got bought out for very large sums. Now some suit somewhere has invested billions of dollars in such a company

        • by Goaway (82658)

          Publishers are not charities

          Yet they still expect people to work for them for free.

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            There are costs to publishing journals. That money had to come from somewhere. Where would you suggest?

      • by hicksw (716194)

        This is actually a common things in academic journals. When I publish a paper, I have the "opportunity" of making the paper "open access" by paying some amount of money. It is a fairly standard practice.

        Standard, yes. Fairly, not so much. Where does the word "thieves" best fit in here?
        --
        Maybe this hell is another planet's heaven. Heaven help them.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:54PM (#43298655) Homepage

    Researchers...you have to pay us to publish.

    Then we sell your published works to others.

    ***

    Seriously, the scientific journal world makes RIAA look like good guys. (Just goes to show, scientists are not so bright).

    Seriously, Wikipedia should launch a peer review parallel site.

    • Just goes to show, scientists are not so bright

      In our defense, we're generally not the ones paying for access fees. The universities are, which are using student tuition to. Granted, the universities do take a ridiculous chunk of the grants we work hard to bring in, and then they do little for us in return besides keep the lights on...

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        Not too mention, we have a tuition crisis, where tuition cost is exceeding it's benefit.

        And it's akin to claiming that we only pay half of our Social Security tax, our employer pays the other half - which is all factored into the total cost of compensation for an employee. And means it's really coming out of our check in the end.

  • That deal is kind of like a sore peter... hard to beat.
  • I would prefer to solve the problem of publishing research in an open, free, non-commercial environment, but don't know of one. I wonder, if it wouldn't be workable to self-publish on Amazon.com, which has the bandwidth, storage, and infrastructure to support the publishing of the research and associated reviews.
  • Wait what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @09:20PM (#43298827) Homepage

    So scientists give their work to a journal for publication, and have to pay to get more favorable license terms?

    I knew that scientific publication is a strange world, but this seems somewhat preposterous.

  • There is so much talk about how cost are minuscule and any reasonably sized institute could bear the load. If that was true then why has it not been done already? I am sure most institutes would love to get rid of the costs of journal subscriptions. Perhaps it is not as easy or low cost as some people think.

    • by slew (2918)

      There is so much talk about how cost are minuscule and any reasonably sized institute could bear the load. If that was true then why has it not been done already? I am sure most institutes would love to get rid of the costs of journal subscriptions. Perhaps it is not as easy or low cost as some people think.

      If you want hard number, look no further than here [arxiv.org]...

      According to their FAQ, arXiv's operating costs for 2013-2017 are projected to average of $826,000 per year, including indirect expenses. Cornell (the hosting institution) kicks in about $75K/year. They also get $350K/year from the Simons Foundation***. Other schools/institutions kick in money based on a "shame" funding model (kind of like a museum suggested donation). arXiv publishes a list of the top 200 downloading institutions sorted by orginating I

      • OK. So we are starting to get somewhere.
        There are still a few facts needed, roughly how many grants are awarded to those universities?

        How much money in those grants is set aside for cost of publishing and purchasing reference materials?

        Using physics and arXiv as models, assume that 30% of topics (high-energy, general relativity, solid-state, etc ) are covered by arXiv and 50% ( the 30% are generally the most exciting and interesting areas, and also the most prolific ) of the physics papers produced in a y

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        ArXiv is an e-print archive. It does not appear that they do any peer reviews or editing. It would seem that hosting journals would be even more expensive. It look more and more like the "it's cheap enough for anyone to take over" crowd is way off.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @09:59PM (#43299011) Homepage

    Here's the way I imagine society works: Some among us produce food. Later, some start producing stuff (as in industry). Then we all notice we need knowledge to keep the economy going. So we set up higher education, and pay people (professors) so they can focus just on education, and leave the moneymaking to the rest of us.

    So why is that that we have people still trying to make money off of education, when we're already paying for it anyway?!

    When the taxpayers have already funded research, what's the justification for not having that research available to anybody and everybody?

    • Re:Blows my mind (Score:5, Insightful)

      by femtobyte (710429) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @10:14PM (#43299113)

      When the taxpayers have already funded research, what's the justification for not having that research available to anybody and everybody?

      Because money money money money mine mine mine mine.

      If you have any other questions about justification for dubious acts under Capitalism, please refer to the above subtle and nuanced explanation.

    • I think it's because people who are working hard to learn or do research are more interested in that than in starting a new way in which they won't be screwed. I could start a journal which would be fair, I could work hard to get investors and raise the impact factor to respectable levels (or rather I could once I get to be respected in my field). But I won't, because that would be incredibly boring. Also because I would rather do science that will contribute more to society, but really it's about intere
  • by Strange Attractor (18957) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @10:36PM (#43299217) Homepage

    I took a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MathWorld to remind myself about how CRC press treated Eric W. Weisstein (creator of MathWorld). CRC press is a division of Taylor and Francis. Whenever I get a request to referee for a Taylor and Francis publication, I decline and point the editor at the MathWorld story.

    Don't do business with Taylor and Francis.

    • I just read the Wikipedia article, and apparently the sticking point was "that the MathWorld content was to remain in print only". If that's the contract Weisstein signed, he could have known he would get into trouble. Don't get me wrong, the academic publishing business is very seriously broken in many ways, but if this is really just a breach of contract, Weisstein should've known better.
  • Copyrights are being abused. The law must change. Sooner or later politicians will see that a LOT of people support copyright reform with moderate intensity. Then we'll see reform . . .

    So, the point is, keep up the dialog!

    I'm buying the Mickey Mouse Copyright theory. In other words copyright duration equals Mickey Mouse's age.

    It's SERIOUS BULLSHIT.

  • ... that was made specifically for publishing scientific articles. Or something like iBookstore and Kindle Store, with DIY publishing options for anyone with moderate Mac skills.

    • You still have to establish some sort of site where articles are "published" ( including passing muster ). Just putting up an article on a website wouldn't be enough for a grant.

      Aaron Swartz was an idiot. He hung around with occupiers and got stuck on this idea of a grand gesture. Which eventually got him into trouble.

      What if instead he started a project, collect requirements--in particular what is missing from arXiv ATM ( allowing edited revisions ), include aspects such as mirroring and managing epijourna

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