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Education The Media Science

Univ. of California Faculty May Boycott Nature Publisher 277

Posted by timothy
from the what-market-will-bear-is-an-empirical-question dept.
Marian the Librarian writes "Nature Publishing Group (NPG), which publishes the prestigious journal Nature along with 67 affiliated journals, has proposed a 400% increase in the price of its license to the University of California. UC is poised to just say no to exorbitant price gouging. If UC walks, the faculty are willing to stage a boycott; they could, potentially, decline to submit papers to NPG journals, decline to review for them and resign from their editorial boards."
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Univ. of California Faculty May Boycott Nature Publisher

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  • meh 'em (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:31PM (#32516462)

    Sigh, it is relatively amusing.. old medium effectively slashing its throat

    • by ph0rk (118461)
      I agree it is an old medium, but the academy moves slow in these things - Journal pubs will likely remain the stuff of CVs and tenure reviews for many years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by codeAlDente (1643257)
        I disagree, pending clarification of your definition of 'slow'. There are still a lot of people who like to read print (in many professions) for the sweet love of not spending ALL day on the computer/microscope. Nature, for many scientists, is like the Wall Street Journal for the business and finance crowd. A lot of people read it, and provides useful, first-hand information that often can't be obtained elsewhere. A lot of academic labs buy it, because they have more money than they need, and if they don't
    • Meanwhile the California government increases their rates 400% and nobody bats an eye
      .

    • ....Or are the UCLA academics cutting theirs?

      People should understand that the Academic publishers would never have dared try a 400% rise without a strong bargaining position. The sad reality is that publishing in a journal like Nature is a huge feather in the cap/CV of any academic, earning them big kudos, faster tenure track and generally more money overall. Publishers are well aware of this and are effectively trying to call UCLAs bluff here. They're very powerful groups with many "prestigious" journals,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:33PM (#32516484)
    I wish people would stop quoting large percent increases. They get the math wrong more often than not, so it is hard to tell what is intended.

    The current average cost for the Nature group's journals is $4,465; under the 2011 pricing scheme, that would rise to more than $17,000 per journal, according to the California Digital Library.

    The new price is about four times higher than the old price, a 300% increase, not a 400% increase.

    • by GreatAntibob (1549139) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:43PM (#32516604)

      Well, that makes a HUGE difference. I'd run like hell from a 400% price increase, but a 300% price increase seems fair and equitable to me.

      • by mea37 (1201159) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:59PM (#32516828)

        Sure. And as long as the conclusion is the same there's no reason to get the facts right, eh?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Sure. And as long as the conclusion is the same there's no reason to get the facts right, eh?

          You've got a good point. We need to know, down to the smallest unit of currency, exactly how much indignant rage to express. Can't go miscalculating that, can we? I mean, obviously, we need to be exactly 50% more outraged at a man who murdered 75 people than one who murdered 50, and how angry we're supposed to be is the thing that really matters.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          I would argue that the facts are right and the semantics are wrong. "a 400% increase" and "an increase to 400% current price" are used interchangeably by many. You may argue it is incorrect. But to argue it as a problem with the facts seems an error. It's a problem with representing a change, and it's a common error, but the "facts" about a price increase and that increase involving some price related to the previous by 400% in some manner is correct. And, given the number of people making this error,
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:32PM (#32517238)

      I wish people would stop quoting large percent increases. They get the math wrong more often than not, so it is hard to tell what is intended.

      The current average cost for the Nature group's journals is $4,465; under the 2011 pricing scheme, that would rise to more than $17,000 per journal, according to the California Digital Library.

      The new price is about four times higher than the old price, a 300% increase, not a 400% increase.

      *COUGH* three times higher... or four times the price.... kettle, Meet pot!

  • seems reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:35PM (#32516516)

    It's becoming increasingly anachronistic that a for-profit company should: 1) get their main product (the papers, in this case) produced for free by third parties who are not given any cut of the revenues; 2) have much of the intellectual work of reviewing and editing the papers also done for free by third parties; and then 3) lock up the result behind a paywall to maximize revenues, which go to people who had comparatively minor roles in actually producing the product being sold.

    Perhaps if more academics did this sort of thing [infotoday.com] things would change.

    • Re:seems reasonable (Score:5, Informative)

      by masterwit (1800118) * on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:47PM (#32516676) Journal

      I do not think that many of their papers are provided on a "free basis" (well yes mostly they are):

      Obviously, there's a tradeoff for faculty, in that many of the NPG journals are recognized for their high quality, and provide a level of prestige that may be essential for advancing a researcher's career. The libraries recommend alternatives, such as the Public Library of Science journals, but those have yet to reach an equivalent level of recognition. The letter also recommends other open access policies, such as following the NIH open access guidelines, but NPG has already taken actions to support these policies.

      source [arstechnica.com]

      They submitters also get compensated (not highly enough as some would argue). In addition I found this very interesting (from arstechnica):

      Nature's take

      In response to our query, Nature Publishing group provided us with a public statement in which it voices distress that what it had assumed were ongoing, confidential negotiations have been disclosed to the public. As for the assertions made along with the disclosure, NPG thinks they're misleading. "The implication that NPG is increasing its list prices by massive amounts is entirely untrue," the statement reads. According to Nature, its library subscriptions are currently capped at seven percent annually.

      Where did the massive increase mentioned by the UC libraries come from? The statement argues that the price increase seems dramatic simply because UC was operating under a discount that NPG terms "unsustainable." NPG claims that it's providing the UC libraries with a discount from list of close to 90 percent, and that "other subscribers, both in the US and around the world, are subsidizing them." Even with the new pricing in place, NPG estimates that the average download of a paper would only cost UC a bit more than 50.

      NPG seems convinced that cooler heads and a detailed analysis of the numbers will see the UC libraries return to the negotiating table. "We are confident that the appointment of Professor Keith Yamamoto and other scientific faculty to lead the proposed boycott," it states, "will mean they will be in a position to assess value with a rigorous and transparent methodology."

      same source linked againsource [arstechnica.com]

      If those facts are all true, they really should be fair to the other universities...but to be honest I bet both sides are exaggerated as that is how media works.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Trepidity (597)

        That justification seems slightly strange. They're arguing that it's "entirely untrue" that NPG is increasing its prices by large amounts, and argue that instead, NPG is simply reducing its discount by large amounts. But that ends up producing the same effect, no?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189)

          It is like insurance prices.

          $75 for a test that costs you $750.

          Which is the real price? The price 99% pay ($75) or the 'rack rate' that the public pays?

          Rather than have a big national health care plan Obama should have just required that the uninsured could not be required to pay more than 25% over what the least expensive insurance company rate was.

          Seriously, one of my gf's had a $5 charge for a "full rate $580" test recently. Just crazy.

          • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:25PM (#32517164)
            Capitalism requires informed consumers. Most companies work very hard to prevent their consumers from being informed. "Private" negotiations for random discounts off inflated MSRP is very anti-capitalistic. A law requiring full disclosure of every customer's price would be fought by almost everyone that claims to be for the Free Market, but in fact would be helping enforce the Free Market. But then, there is a desire by those people to have the Free Market regulated by those who directly benefit by violating it (they want to have the corporations police themselves and if you don't like it, shop elsewhere, even when there is no where else to shop). But having government regulation enforcing the Free Market, while required for a Free Market, is somehow a violation of the Free Market.

            But imagine the row when every price for every seat on an airplane is known. Or when you go to the doctor and he tells you that the average price for that test is $142.5 and your price is $750 (as 90% get it for $75 and 10% get it for $750). Or car dealerships, which are staunchly anti-Free Market have to actually tell other customers what they actually charged for cars. But, an informed consumer is *required* for the Free Market. And as long as people get the idea in their heads that negotiation is good because they are smarter than the average guy, the USA will stay as far away from a capitalistic free market as possible.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Seriously, one of my gf's had a $5 charge for a "full rate $580" test recently. Just crazy.

            Sorry to hear your gf fell for that door-to-door breast exam scam.

        • Yes, the net impact on UC is the same. But the phrasing really matters. An increase of 300% out of the blue is unreasonable.

          But the implication that UC gets a discount far larger than anyone else muddies the waters.

          I'd be curious to see what discounts other large subscribers get, and if UC's discount is really out of whack with the discounts other institutional subscribers receive.

          Perhaps the larger news here is not this proposed increase for UC, but instead how much everyone else is paying for the sam
      • by jfengel (409917)

        UC was operating under a discount that NPG terms "unsustainable."

        Well, that seems to be rather the heart of the matter, doesn't it?

        How much is NPG's overhead, and what are their profit margins? The service they provide is solely the prestige: they are the most exclusive journal, getting the most important papers subject to (presumably) the most stringent reviews.

        The price of the journal helps contribute to that prestige: anybody can open a free journal. But nearly all of it goes to profit, as they don't pay either the referees or the authors.

        So, if their overhead is so

      • by Weezul (52464)

        Interesting vaguely, but mostly that just says NPG is outdated and must die.

        Academic publishers do exactly jack shit, seriously like nothing, zero, zilch. Academics prepare their papers in LaTeX which unlike MS Word will easily produce print quality output. I've never once seen even so much as a spelling correction from an editor, merely bitching about uncited referenced that I'd left uncited for a reason. Referees work completely for free.

        • LaTeX? Maybe in math or physics. In the life sciences it's rarely used. We usually are asked for either a Word document or a .pdf (made by Word more often than not). The last article I wrote I had to use a journal-supplied template in Word. It wasn't too painful except for one table that was pretty much the whole page. The end result was I did all the formatting, and that kind of setup seems to be more and more common. But yeah the academic publishers don't do much: print dead tree format (if they h
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Goldsmith (561202)

        I sat on a libraries committee at a UC a few years ago while this "deal" with Nature was being negotiated.

        This idea that the UC is getting a discount is absolute BS. We paid (and are paying) extra so that UC libraries are allowed to locally store electronic copies of the online articles, something which Nature is now required to allow us to do (for free) for NIH sponsored research. Go ahead and go to the Nature website and look at the institution subscription price. I just checked again and Nature is rig

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The whole process is incredibly biased to the point it can be argued that large company best interests are often the greater concern for acceptance of a paper versus the quality and significance of the contribution itself – but that is just one issue. Some well known scientists have argued openly with other well known scientists and as a result, their contributions (or labs contributions) have become blacklisted and are never published. This does nothing more than hurt the pursuit of science (and the
    • 1) get their main product (the papers, in this case) produced for free by third parties who are not given any cut of the revenues; 2) have much of the intellectual work of reviewing and editing the papers also done for free by third parties; and then 3) lock up the result behind a paywall to maximize revenues, which go to people who had comparatively minor roles in actually producing the product being sold.

      Does it strike you that this is a pretty good description of a commercial Linux distribution?

      Bruce

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sonamchauhan (587356)

        It does. :)

        So, delving deeper into the analogy, the next best thing for scientific publishers is to offer 'support'.

        Maybe, in the form of an electronic forum where the author and reviewers of the paper can collaborate and respond to comments and requests for information to its subscribers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lonewolf666 (259450)

        Only up to the moment when the customers get their hands on the distribution. At this point the Open Source licenses guarantee the right to re-distribution, and anyone who feels motivated enough can re-publish the softeware at a price of his choice.

        The only thing distributors can do about this is trademark based:
        They can place restrictions on using the product name. But the users can still change the name and logo and re-distribute the cosmetically changed product. Examples include
        -The Iceweasel browser in

  • If it is true that the price has gone up by 400% I can see why they are doing it but fom my point of view as a researcher not at UC, it means that there will be (slightly) less competition to get in to Nature. It also means when I go for a job interview and I am up against a UC candidate I will have the nature paper and he wont. Which will mean I will get the job. Having a paper in Nature is the gold standard in research and I don't think this stance will do their researchers any good.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:39PM (#32516562)

      Depends on what area you're in. In machine learning / AI (my area), having a paper in Nature gives you huge cred with some audiences, but will get you extra scrutiny from other audiences, because there's a big trend of people with relatively crappy ML research gussying it up with some sexy applications (usually bio-related) and then publishing it in a general-readership science journal like Nature or Science in order to avoid the kind of scrutiny it'd get if they tried to publish in an actual ML or Statistics journal.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:01PM (#32516842)
        I agree. In my discipline, a nature of science paper will get you huge attention from the university administration and bureaucrats in your funding agency. However, your colleagues who research things close to you will be suspicious because one has to simplify your findings and leave important qualifying statements out in order to have the paper be understandable by a general audience. I've seen more than one Nature or Science paper whose results were a little too convenient or cute and not surprisingy were later found to be totally bogus. It's not that bogus results don't happen in other journals, that's part of the scientific process, but when it's published in science or nature, a lot of people not in your field tend to believe it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Trepidity (597)

          Yeah--- interestingly, I've found that many of the people who themselves have Science or Nature papers have this view too. If their research is genuinely high-quality and novel in their own area, they'll often publish a second journal article specifically on the underlying technical component in a journal in their field, and that's often the one they'll cite when doing a self-cite. Now if you have that: a journal article in a top journal in your field for within-field cred, plus a high-profile article in th

      • car show analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:13PM (#32517004) Journal

        Scientific publishing is worse than car shows. Most car shows, participants pay, and the spectators get in for free. Which always seemed backwards to me. Sports games are the other way around. The audience pays the players. Except for vanity publishing, authors of fiction generally get paid for their efforts. But car shows are weird that way. Participants enter car shows to show off their rides. They want to show off so badly they'll pay to do it.

        So it is with scientific publishing. Researchers don't just want to show off, they have to, to keep their jobs. These scumbag publishers take advantage of that situation to take work for nothing, and act like the researchers should be grateful not to be charged a fee. You might think they add some value with editing and reviewing, but no, they farm all that work out to other researchers-- and pay them nothing for that either. And then the publishers turn around and gouge the spectators too.

        There's some serious dislocation in values here. Let's kick Nature where it hurts. They very badly need reminding who is really providing the material. Actually, forget that. Just kill Nature. I had already decided long ago to never again publish in a closed journal. PLoS is where I'll be sending my work.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by takowl (905807)

          These scumbag publishers... act like the researchers should be grateful not to be charged a fee.....PLoS is where I'll be sending my work.

          So, you take issue with the fact that mainstream publishers don't pay scientists (we'll ignore how that would work in a market where space in well known journals is the scarce resource), and would like to thumb your nose at them by... going with a publisher that will charge you [plos.org] >$2000 to publish your own material! There are good arguments for open access publishing, but your complaints contradict one another.

          There is still a market for print journals, although maybe it's on the wane. Someone has to pay f

        • by Guppy (12314) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:56PM (#32517558)

          Most car shows, participants pay, and the spectators get in for free. Which always seemed backwards to me.

          Interpretation: The spectators are not the customer. They are the product being sold.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Scientific publishing is worse than car shows. Most car shows, participants pay, and the spectators get in for free. Which always seemed backwards to me.

          While I'm sure some participants are just there to show off, I think many of them are there to promote their business, which is customizing cars, and that's why they participate and pay for the privilege. While they're there showing up their fancy car with special upholstery, they're passing out business cards to spectators promoting their auto upholstery

      • big trend of people with relatively crappy ML research gussying it up with some sexy applications (usually bio-related) and then publishing it in a general-readership science journal

        Mark Newman! PNAS! The list goes on...generally seem to be people from field X trying to stuff from field Y (where Y is often ML/statistics/algorithms, and X != math or CS).

    • by bkpark (1253468)

      Having a paper in Nature is the gold standard in research

      And why do you suppose it is? Impact factor [wikipedia.org]. And what affects the impact factor? Number of citations. And who generates these citations? Academic researchers.

      If this boycott/controversy leads to scientists at UC (and elsewhere) disliking Nature, it'll have an impact on its impact factor which may negate whatever benefit non-UC researchers may got from reduced competition.

      In any case, the academic journal publishers charging exorbitant fees are ... pot

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Having a paper in Nature is the gold standard in research and I don't think this stance will do their researchers any good.

      It currently sure is, but interestingly things are happening in the field as well. There is a growing disagreement with the prices one has to pay for journals who nowadays mainly provide an IT platform. Various journals publication systems are open sources and this simply leads to the fact that publishers are competing with free/open source systems.

      Take PlosONe, though obviously not as high as Nature, is becoming a more and more cutting edge journal collection. If anything, it shows that the classic peer-re

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Idarubicin (579475)

      Having a paper in Nature is the gold standard in research and I don't think this stance will do their researchers any good.

      Nature isn't the only journal in the top tier. Within any given field, there are slightly more specific journals with equal 'street cred' -- Cell is seen as just as important among biologists; The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet are just as good for clinical researchers; I imagine that other fields have similar 'blockbuster' titles.

      And if you're not going for Nature, then Science is their major competitor for the 'general' scientific audience. Similar impact factor, similar value on one'

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:37PM (#32516542) Journal
    Step 1. Scientists do research(paid for largely by a mixture of tax money, and skimming from undergrads)

    Step 2. Scientists write paper, submit to journal.

    Step 3. Journal has other scientists(paid for by their respective universities) peer review paper for free.

    Step 4. If journal decides to publish, they frequently demand copyright on paper.

    Step 5. University library shells out nontrivial dead presidents so that scientists can read the papers they and their colleagues wrote.

    They poison parasites, right?
    • Step 5. University library shells out nontrivial dead presidents so that scientists can read the papers they and their colleagues wrote.

      This also has been bothering me for a while. I never got why exactly my girlfriend, who is an undergrad in Ancient and Medieval History, and has been networking with Prof's all over North America, still insists on buying Archaeology Magazine, when she has heard most of the names in there and could probably get the un-editted articles if she sent an email. It's like 5 Degrees of Seperation max.

      It absolutely baffles me.

      Then again, how would she know there was a paper written if she didn't purchase the publici

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Why don't the Universities just form a non-profit group to take the place of the publisher? This group could then start a website, and organize the participants. All the papers would be published online, on the website, in PDF format. If anyone really wants a dead-tree version of an article, they can print it themselves. The articles would all be free to read for everyone, so that science is accessible to anyone who has interest. The only cost would be nominal: money for web space, perhaps a full-time

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bowling Moses (591924)
          There's Public Library of Science [plos.org], which has a handful of journals. At least some of which, like PLoS Biology, are highly ranked. PLoS ONE is the biggest open access journal, with over 4,000 articles published last year. Still has a decent second-tier ranking, which will probably increase. The journals published by the professional societies are pretty good too, with typically lower cost of subscription and decent ranking. As bad as the Nature Publishing Group is made to look here (and I'm fully on th
          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Wow, that's bad.

            But still, this whole idea that anyone should have to pay to read scientific publications just seems to fly in the face of what science is about, and it only fuels the general public's view that science is a walled garden, an ivory tower of academics jerking each other off, and not producing learning that's genuinely useful for humanity. If this data is so useful, then it should be freely available to everyone, just like Free/open-source software is. You don't see anyone claiming how great

    • by femtoguy (751223)

      At least it is mostly better than it was. You used to have to pay a per page charge to have your paper published once it was accepted, which was on the order of hundreds of dollars for a scientific paper. If you wanted a color figure, it went up to thousands. Then, if you wanted copies of your paper to send to colleagues, you had to pay for those too. I published a paper in Science, and by the time we paid the page charges and bought 1000 preprints, we had spend most of $10,000. Now that's a business m

      • You used to have to pay a per page charge to have your paper published once it was accepted.

        Used to? There are still several publishers (especially in the biomed fields) that still require them.

    • I have no idea what research you are doing but in my field undergrads are clearly there to learn and you spend far more time helping them do simple tasks than you benefit from their work. Graduate students on the other hand are paid virtually nothing (20k/year) for 50 hrs/week work.
  • Money talks.

    The one thing I don't get is why Nature is gouging their content providers and why UC is PAYING for being content providers in the first place. Peer reviewing, editorial work, actual submissions? Don't people usual GET paid for this?

  • Pot, meet kettle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PatPending (953482) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:39PM (#32516566)

    I'd like to see a chart of NPG's "exorbitant subscription increases" and UC's tuition costs vs. time

    5 will get you 10 that UC is much higher.

    • Re:Pot, meet kettle (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tucara (812321) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:49PM (#32516720)
      Not that I agree with the massive tuition hikes, but the difference here is that the journal is getting most of it's content and editing for free. It would be like the UC tuition rising despite all the professors and janitors working for free. Also some journals actually charge your for publishing articles. It cost me a $1000 to publish in an IOP journal...and by me I mean the taxpayer since I work on a DOE experiment.
    • The UC has to raise tuition over time because the funding from the state has decreased and it costs more to keep good research Professors at the University teaching and (something that can be cut) pay administrators. But overall the UC costs have risen and the tuition is compensating for that rise.

      It is also worth noting that as the government reduces its funding of university research and private organizations take up the slack the overhead chargeable by universities is greatly affected. That is private
  • UC doesn't mind gouging students.....or taxpayers.

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:45PM (#32516642)

    Form a cooperative association. Create an on-line journal. Hire staff sufficient to cover the costs of administration. Charge dues sufficient to cover the cost of administration. Let publishers competitively bid for the right to print and sell hard copies (if any want to). Elect a board of governors sufficient to ensure that only top quality stuff gets published.

    The current situation is parasitical and symbiotic--but it's becoming less symbiotic.

    They should take advantage of the technology and displace the parasite.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's called PLoS (http://www.plos.org/) and you pay to play there too.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        Not all areas have pay-to-play open-access journals. In my area, JAIR [jair.org] and JMLR [mit.edu] are probably the two most prestigious journals (not just most prestigious open-access journals, but most prestigious period), and they're both entirely open access and entirely free of publication fees.

    • It's already happening - have a look at frontiersin.org. You pay to publish, access is free to anyone.
    • by eulernet (1132389)

      Not really a journal: http://arxiv.org/ [arxiv.org]

  • At least on the surface it sounds like Nature has far more to loose in this venture in creative pricing than UC does. Loosing editorial staff, reviewers and submissions because you want to charge them more to provide your content just sounds rather backwards.

  • by toxygen01 (901511) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:58PM (#32516808) Journal
    Few months ago I read Donald Knuth's open letter to publisher on the exact same topic - increase in price.
    The letter is dated 2003, but I believe is it as actual today as it was back then.

    the link to this comprehensive letter is:
    http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~uno/joalet.pdf [stanford.edu]

    if you find it tl;dr, I can only suggest to read at least first 2 pages to get the insight on what he wanted to share with other people...
  • Just to be clear, what is causing this huge increase? I find it weird that there isn't some more general outcry, why is it limited to UCL? That's a huge jump, completely abnormal for a commercial entity, and TFA is oddly scant on this rather significant bit of context.

    Googling around a bit I hit this [sciencemag.org], which follows the old-skool "journalism" thing of finding out what the other side has to say:

    The problem, according to NPG, is that CDL has "been on a very large, unsustainable discount for many years," and o

    • Just to be clear, what is causing this huge increase?

      The bigger picture is that for many years now, publishers have claimed that dead tree subscriptions by individuals have been dropping like a rock. It's not just NPG that's doing this, Elsevier has been doing this for a long time with the journals they can get away with. There is some truth to it, many scientists used to have paper subscriptions to their favorite journals. Nowadays though, you just navigate to your library's web-site and enter your id

      • by lgw (121541)

        As much as I hate to use the phrase, it's a paradigm shift.

        My father, who had a distinguished career as a professor, explained to me once that journals could never move online because their primary purpose was to fill bookshelves in the offices of professors, as an indication of senority within the tribe - the more shelf feet of journals you had, the more seriously you were to be taken. The least senior professors have little to lose by switching, however, and I suspect that's what has happened - over a ge

  • by JanneM (7445) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:19PM (#32517092) Homepage

    I'm no fan of the price gouging publishers are engaging in, but really - Elsevier publishes fake journals by the hundreds [slashdot.org] and there's not a peep from university or faculty. Thomson Reuters sues an open source competitor [slashdot.org] for just having a filter that can read Endnote files and the reaction is zero. But now it's about money and suddenly they're all up in arms with boycotts and protests...

    • But now it's about money and suddenly they're all up in arms with boycotts and protests...

      If you own a business, and know that one of your biggest customers was having financial difficulties, that's probably a bad time to tell them they won't be getting the same discount anymore. That would go double if that same customer somehow was giving you a significant amount of the product you were selling back to them. That's the situation that nature stumbled into: they get a lot of their research from UC, UC is a major customer of their journals, and the UC system has been really hit by the state bud

    • by femtoguy (751223)

      The irony of this is that I had never heard of zotero until Thomson Reuters sued, and it made it to slashdot. Now I use it, and have a half dozen colleagues using it. Best publicity ever.

  • What is especially strange about much of academic publishing not changing its traditional subscription model to account for the rise of Internet is that (unlike a lot of other content providers) there is a clear, economically viable alternative.

    Instead of charging for subscriptions, journals should get revenue by charging authors to publish (sometimes called "page fees"). Some journals already have page fees that don't cover the cost of publication, in which case they would need to be increased.

    Since in bio

  • NIH funding - which covers most of the research published my American researchers in Nature - now requires that work funded by NIH money is also submitted to an open journal, even if it is also accepted to a top-shelf journal. This applies to all new grants and all renewed grants from the NIH, so the impact of Nature's subscription fees is slowly being grandfathered out with regards to new research.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:23PM (#32518396) Homepage Journal

      Not exactly. The NIH Public Acess Policy [nih.gov] requires that articles based on research funded by NIH be made available to the public no more than a year after publication, by submitting the paper to PubMed. So you don't have to publish your article in both, say, Nature and BMC Biology; you just have to make sure that if the paper is published in Nature, PubMed gets a copy and posts it on their server. Alternately, the PubMed listing may link to the paper at the publisher's site if it's open-access. Wellcome Trust has a similar policy. A number of traditional journal publishers (e.g. Oxford University Press) are automatically making NIH- and/or Wellcome-funded papers available on their sites to ensure compliance -- in fact, most OUP biomedical journals just open everything up after six months to make sure. At a guess, at least three-quarters of the biomedical research published in English depends on NIH, Wellcome, or both, so this is really the easiest way to do it.

      I really do believe it's possible for traditional journal publishing, open access, and other methods of disseminating research to peacefully coexist. Just a lot of folks haven't got the message yet.

  • When an article published in 1927 is behind a paywall, you know that the journal keeping that science hostage, is bad news.

    Therefore, screw Nature.

  • not very realistic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Amanitin (1603983) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @03:58AM (#32521064)

    I am in a mid size biotech company.
    In our field there are around 15-20 must-have titles. I was in charge of getting quotes for those titles, from 3 publishers.
    The bottomline was upwards of 45000 $. Per annum. Electronic access only.
    We declined.
    We ask authors directly to send us a copy.

  • Nature's response (Score:3, Informative)

    by stillnotelf (1476907) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @09:58AM (#32522950)
    I haven't seen Nature's response discussed enough in the above discussion. Basically, Nature says that UC has been getting a huge discount for years because they pay the rate of one university even though they function as many universities. They also get some sort of other bulk discount. Nature wants them to pay like a collection of universities (like all the other state university systems), which will reduce their discount from 88% to 50%. This is the increase about which UC is complaining.

    I strongly suspect most of the anger at UC is budget-concerned folk in the library system, not the rank-and-file researchers. They probably recognize a Nature boycott is likely bad for them and want this to not happen.

    Here's a couple more links, to the ScienceInsider coverage (from Nature's primary competitor) and Nature itself:

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/06/university-of-california-conside.html#more [sciencemag.org]

    http://www.nature.com/press_releases/cdl.html [nature.com]

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