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White House Petition For Open Access To Research 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-your-work dept.
dstates writes "You paid for it, you should be able to read the results of publicly funded research. The National Institutes of Health have had a very successful open access mandate requiring that the results of federally funded biomedical research be published in open access journals. Now there is a White House petition to broaden this mandate. This is a jobs issue. Startups and midsize business need access to federally funded technology research. It is a health care issue, patients and community health providers need access, not a few scientists in well funded research institutes, and even wealthy institutions like Harvard are finding the prices of proprietary journals unsustainable."
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White House Petition For Open Access To Research

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  • Oh wow! (Score:3, Funny)

    by busyqth (2566075) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:19PM (#40068181)
    Oh wow! An online petition!
    Now things will really start to change!
    For the next step we need to stage a sit-in at a Starbucks.
    • by Dwonis (52652)
      Online movements can help speed up changes that are already gaining momentum.
      You know, like the open-access movement.
  • "We the People"...ha!
    This is nothing more than a tool to give us the illusion of influence.

    • by ThorGod (456163)
      Do you really want anything on the internet to directly decide public US government policy/law? The answer, of course, is NO! We can't even trust the internet to cast votes properly. And you want these petitions to be met with more than a couple paragraphs of response? Please. This is not the proper forum for policy making.
    • by Jeng (926980)

      Pffft, their results show that they don't even give an illusion of working.

  • Wonderful! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:24PM (#40068255) Homepage Journal
    Now we can have a nice, bullshit, boilerplate response to a legitimate question!

    Seriously, is anyone still falling for this obvious scam?
    • What is a scam here?

      I didn't see any response yet.

      The petition seems ok.

      • by ThorGod (456163)
        The "scam" is that you can't make an online poll be law...yet.

        (sarcasm)
      • Re:What is a scam? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:45PM (#40068523)

        The scam is you will get some bullshit answer and no matter what you will not change their opinion.

        This entire thing is a huge waste of time.

        • The scam is you will get some bullshit answer and no matter what you will not change their opinion.

          This entire thing is a huge waste of time.

          This.

          My bad for thinking it was obvious.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ffflala (793437)

          The scam is you will get some bullshit answer and no matter what you will not change their opinion.

          This common sentiment is frustrating to hear. It always comes from people who seem to expect fast, precise responses from lumbering institutions and bureaucracies that necessarily move at a far slower pace.

          Nothing big gets changed quickly. You'll never sign the one petition that finally sends things over the top, and hell while we're at it, sure your single vote doesn't really matter all that much, in the grand scheme.

          Big change takes time, years, sometimes decades or even generations. Several Congresses

          • by Raenex (947668)

            Absolutely right. What were once unchanging and inevitable positions have been eroded time and time again throughout history. The only way to lose for sure is to just give up.

        • This entire thing is a huge waste of time.

          yeah - can we get a Slashdot section for Whitehouse Petitions? They seem to come up quite a bit lately and I'd rather just killfile the stories, because they all turn out the same.

  • I don't agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThorGod (456163) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:27PM (#40068295) Journal
    "This is a jobs issue. Startups and midsize business need access to federally funded technology research"

    Yeah, sure, it's nice that businesses hire people that can read and I'm sure they do important work. Blah blah blah.

    This is a public good. We're talking about basic research funded with public funds. Everyone who pays taxes should have access to works published from that funding (within reason). (Maybe if you don't pay US taxes you shouldn't have access, but that's a point for another time.)

    To be specific, science should communicated to the public. I don't mean that the public should be viewed as having a "say" in what gets studied/published or not - that's for peer review and ethics boards. Feynman talks about how important this is. If your hypothesis can't ever be communicated to someone outside the discipline, then just maybe it's not a sound hypothesis. (I'm not sure he said that exactly, but that's as I see things.)
  • Fuck these petitions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:30PM (#40068341) Journal

    One of the highest ranked petitions on the site called on the President to advocate for the regulation of Cannabis [whitehouse.gov] in a manner similar to alcohol. The administrations response [norml.org] did not mention alcohol once. Further, it was written by the drug czar, who is legally required to oppose any measures that would legalize Cannabis.

    Don't think for a moment that anyone is listening to your petition. This is a marketing tool for the president to co-opt your issue. If he can respond to a few unimportant petitions, he gets to claim that he listens to "the people", while ignoring anything that's really important.

    For example, after the debacle I described above, someone created a petition for the president to take these petitions seriously. It got the requisite peitions and got a response [whitehouse.gov]. They gave some examples of how the petitions influenced policy. Among them were banning puppy mills, digitizing federal records, and a "conversation" on online piracy. Not exactly heavy hitting issues here.

    "The People" have absolutely no say on anything that matters in this country. Fuck these petitions, and fuck this president.

    • by cwhooker (2644559)
      The petition was prompted by discussions between SPARC/ARL and the administration's Science Advisor. The clear message was that Obamacorp is well aware of the access issue, and would be very receptive to a strong display of public support. You want realpolitik? With an election coming up, this is something Obama might just seize on for a populist play. What's not to like about getting fair value for gummint spending on science? No matter what you think of his reasons for doing it, this is a chance to
      • by Hatta (162192)

        Sorry, Obama had his chance. If he wanted to be a populist, he should have started in 2008. Voting for Obama because of this issue is no better than falling for the good cop in the old good/bad cop routine.

  • Who pays for it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binarstu (720435) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:30PM (#40068347)
    I would be in full support of this mandate as long as it includes a provision that all federal research funding must also pay for publishing costs. I am a big fan of open-access journals, but the reality is that many of them are very expensive to publish in. For example, authors are charged almost $3,000 to publish a single article in PLoS Biology. For many researchers who are working off of limited grants, that price makes publishing in those journals impossible. In contrast, many "closed" journals have no costs to the authors because publishing costs are covered by subscription fees. I absolutely do want to see a larger migration to open-access publishing, but I also don't want "open access" mandates to forget about who actually pays for publication.
    • The great majority - or actually *every* other open-access journal, including various other PLoS journals - have *much* lower publication fees. Even as low as an order of magnitude less than your quoted number. The various PLoS journals do remain the most expensive to publish in, but they often allow articles to be published for free, depending on institution and country of origin.

    • I've been on grant review boards -- a large number of the grants submitted make an assumption that they'll publish a paper a year, and include the 'page fees' (or whatever is appropriate in their field) in their grant proposal to cover the publishing of the research information.

      Now, conversely, I really liked Jason Priem and Bradley M. Hemminger's recent article, 'Decoupling the Scholarly Journal [frontiersin.org]', which talks about the basic tasks that a journal does, and how they don't all need to be done by a single ent

    • PLoS, like all reputable open access publishers, waives publication fees for authors who cannot afford to pay. [plos.org] I've seen the specious "open access publishing locks out researchers who can't pay" repeated so often, in such obvious defiance of the facts, that I'm starting to wonder if it's astroturfing on the part of the PRISM [prismcoalition.org] crowd.

    • by Dwonis (52652)

      For example, authors are charged almost $3,000 to publish a single article in PLoS Biology.

      I've never heard anyone make a convincing case for why it actually needs to cost that much. I suspect those numbers are just a symptom of fat, money-hungry publishers adopting fat, money-hungry procedures.

      FOSS developers already have systems for massive, worldwide peer review of open-access technical publications (their source code). If established publishers can't figure out how to charge *substantially* less than $3000 for an article, then I suggest that they get out of the business entirely.

    • by pantaril (1624521)

      I would be in full support of this mandate as long as it includes a provision that all federal research funding must also pay for publishing costs.

      If they don't have money to publish the paper in open-access journal, they should at last be required to release the raw unedited version of the paper they submited to the journal. There is no reason to completely withdraw all results of publicly funded research from public.

  • Also repell patents on drugs that were funded in a material way by the public. Because nearly all drugs are funded by the public. Labs almost invariably hook into the process at the very last stage, when the gory details have been worked out already, and reap the benefits for the entire process.

    • by slew (2918)

      Also repell patents on drugs that were funded in a material way by the public. Because nearly all drugs are funded by the public. Labs almost invariably hook into the process at the very last stage, when the gory details have been worked out already, and reap the benefits for the entire process.

      Although that might please the anti-patent croud, I think, you would find pretty much no-takers for funding for FDA trials. Why would any company pay for an FDA trial when the outcome is uncertain and if it turned out okay they would be in competion with every other company to manufacture the drug, but the other companies didn't have to pay so every company takes one step back...

      The only solutions to this problem seem to be:

      1. Maybe the government would pay for all drug trials as well (hmm, try making that

      • by Kergan (780543)

        Er, no. Funding FDA trials is a non-issue: public funding is there already. It funds almost all drugs from A to Y.

        By the time a drug company actually take part in trials, drug R&D is at Z: the drug is demonstrably not a placebo, its side effects are identified and benign, and the only real questions are securing the FDA's approval and any IP claims (both involve arcane paperwork),

        The drug companies, to defend their entitlements, would like you to believe they funded the whole thing and deserve proper co

        • by slew (2918)

          Er, no...

          Nearly all clinical trials from the pilot study, to the Phase I, Phase II, Phase III, and Phase IV are funded by pharma companies (at least in the US).

          For example, let's take Lipitor, basically the best selling drug on the planet.

          Although research into statins was quite old by then and there was already a statin on the market (pravastatin aka Pravacol), Dr' Bruce Roth working for Parke-Davis was researching a competitive statin, but discovered that other company had already patented the compound.

  • IMO one good fit for government is to build infrastructure upon which commerce can flourish. Usually I think of this as roads, water, sewer, communications - places where to some extent or another a duplicate system has a large barrier to entry, but upon which duplicate, redundant companies can compete to distinguish themselves.

    So then I have to wonder how basic research fits into this. If the research is done and paid for by private companies, then the government is already going to step in and restrict

    • by mx+b (2078162)

      I like your infrastructure take. That is mostly how I view it; much as government takes care of roads, communications, water, and mandates rules for things like electricity, I think the next big wave is going to be information in general. The internet needs to be regulated (in the sense of network neutrality and rules that all citizens should have access; the internet is simply too important to our lives at this point, and much work and commerce can be done online), and when it comes to scientific research,

      • by sohmc (595388)

        My only problem with this is what makes it into a scientific journal? Since it's public, I would want as many studies included, but this may include junk science. But having a lower bar of entry could also be used for controversial subjects.

        As rigorous as scientific method is, the definition of science has become fodder for political debate. (I initially had examples of good and bad science, but it seems that each person has their own idea of what they mean.) Whether this fodder will benefit humanity lo

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Here's the power of federally funded research: The government can do research that won't immediately and obviously lead to profits in a way that private company's research can't. A lot of research has no short-term value, and in many cases there's not even a clear idea of what the scientists will find when they examine something, but then 2 decades later it's suddenly a ground-breaking discovery.

      For example, Watson and Crick were mostly government funded, and some of the practical applications of their disc

  • by hendrikboom (1001110) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:24PM (#40069035)

    I followed the link to the petition, and it told me I had already signed it.

    I most certainly have not, though I might have if I weren't a Canadian and possibly ineligible to do so. But telling me I have already signed it is just plain wrong.

    -- hendrik

  • "and even wealthy institutions like Harvard are finding the prices of proprietary journals unsustainable"

    Well, I - and a lot of others - in turn find the publication prices of open access journals unpayable. And some people keep forgetting that if major journals - lots of which are US-based - would switch to open access publication models, the wide majority of non-US researchers would simply not be able to afford publishing in those journals. Well, it would reduce competition in high impact journals, that
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      pfft.. as if the usa government didn't have the resources to put on a site and start requiring that people receiving their grants spend some time reviewing others papers.

      the major journals are a money printing operation. they're not meant to be subscribed to with your "own" money.

    • by pantaril (1624521)

      Well, I - and a lot of others - in turn find the publication prices of open access journals unpayable. And some people keep forgetting that if major journals - lots of which are US-based - would switch to open access publication models, the wide majority of non-US researchers would simply not be able to afford publishing in those journals

      I understand that lot's of researchers rely on closed-access journal editors to edit their papers to publicable form and this editing work is not free.

      But what prevents you from publishing at least raw/unedited version of the paper? My problem is, that results of research paid from tax-payers money are not available to taxpayers at all. If the funding doesn't cover editing and publications of the paper, just release the unedited results. But not releasing results at all is IMO wrong.

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