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Release of 33GiB of Scientific Publications 242

Posted by timothy
from the summer-reading dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Wikipedian, Greg Maxwell, has released 33GiB of scientific publications [note: torrent] from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in response to the arrest of Aaron Swartz for, effectively, downloading too many articles from JSTOR. The release consists of 18,592 scientific articles previously released at $8-$19 each and all published prior to 1923 and so public domain."
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Release of 33GiB of Scientific Publications

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  • by 15Bit (940730) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:26PM (#36853218)
    I know a lot of academics are becoming annoyed by the publishers and their business models. Frankly its a disgrace that most research isn't freely available to the general public. More often than not they have paid for it via taxation and university fees (most research, at least in europe where i am, is taxpayer funded). Add to that the fact that the academics do the work, write the papers, review the papers (for free i might add) and mostly act as journal editors (for free again), and its hard to see really what the publishers are doing beyond hosting the PDF.

    Oh and the best bit - when you submit your paper to the publisher, you also sign over copyright. So they even own all the taxpayer funded work. Actually i was wrong at the start, its beyond a disgrace.
  • by backwardMechanic (959818) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:50PM (#36853402) Homepage
    There is a better way. Various groups are seriously trying to push open-access publishing, Frontiers being one example (frontiersin.org). When you look into the problem a little more closely, you find that publishing isn't free. Hosting the PDF is cheap, but somebody has to produce it in the first place and maintain a website. And before that, someone has to arrange for the peer-review to happen, find an editorial board and reviewers, etc. Most open-access outfits use the publisher-pays model - i.e. you pay to have your article published, and then anyone can download it for free. The trouble is this shifts the payments from the largely invisible library subscriptions (taken from university staff overheads) to a very direct, comes-off-your-grant payment. But it is still a better model - we just need to see publishing become a recognised cost in grants. Your article is then, subject to peer review, freely available to anyone who wants it - an the authors retain copyright. Think about it next time you're publishing.

    Now, does anyone want to explain why impact factors are a crap, self-serving metric that promotes more rather than better articles?
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:50PM (#36853410)

    I know a lot of academics are becoming annoyed by the publishers and their business models. Frankly its a disgrace that most research isn't freely available to the general public. More often than not they have paid for it via taxation and university fees (most research, at least in europe where i am, is taxpayer funded). Add to that the fact that the academics do the work, write the papers, review the papers (for free i might add) and mostly act as journal editors (for free again), and its hard to see really what the publishers are doing beyond hosting the PDF.

    I'll divide my response to this into two categories: journals published by nonprofit academic societies, and for-profit journals.

    For the most part, the for-profits can, in my opinion, go die in a fire. So there's that.

    The non-profits are much more complicated. These organizations aren't spending lots of money on yachts for CEOs, they're using their funds for (in many cases) education, running conferences, scholarships, and the costs of running and organizing the journals. If you reduce the costs of the journals, a laudable goal of course, you reduce the funds available for their other goals. Also, I doubt highly it's as easy to operate a well-run organization as you portray. It takes copy editors, layout editors, graphics people, and people to simply keep the gears turning. Academics do not do these things.

    So basically, the answer is "it's complicated, and it's harder than you think."

  • Re:Biased summary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mcvos (645701) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:36PM (#36853674)

    If that's it. then yes, he deserves a slap on the wrist. Meanwhile, everybody else would be wise to put the articles he released on a freely accessible and easily searchable website.

    What I'd like to know is why those overly expensive journals still exist. Do they pay authors so much that everybody prefers to send articles there? My impression was that both authors and peer reviewers were unpaid or paid very little. So nobody who matters really profits from that rip-off situation. So why don't people set up a free science journal website, and submit everything there?

  • Re:Biased summary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Friday July 22, 2011 @10:05PM (#36854360)

    So he downloaded tons of scientific truth, and took extraordinary means to do so.

    There is a saying... "no harm, no foul." The point of the saying being that even though an action may have occurred that is of some infringing nature, if there is no harm, the infringement can be easily forgiven.

    I just want to know why MIT is holding the truth so tightly and only dictating its implications through press release and patented products; the truth should be free.

  • Re:Librarians (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2011 @12:12AM (#36854790)

    The librarians are too conservative. This is a case where they need to start responding with some "fuck no, we won't pay" and "instead we'll teach our patrons to circumvent your little paywall" but they don't because that kind of person doesn't become a librarian.

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