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Jimmy Wales Backs UK Government Bid To Free Academic Data 55

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

    by ribuck ( 943217 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @06:42AM (#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 whydavid ( 2593831 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @07:14AM (#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 Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @07:49AM (#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?

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

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.