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Researchers Opt To Limit Uses of Open-access Publications 172

Posted by timothy
from the this-much-and-no-more dept.
ananyo writes "How open do researchers want open-access papers to be? Apparently, not that open — when given a choice of licenses, most opt to limit the use of data and words in their open-access publications, according to figures released by the open-access journal Scientific Reports. Since July 2012 the journal has been offering researchers a choice of three types of license. The first, most liberal license, CC-BY, allows anyone, even commercial organizations, to re-use it. A more restrictive version, CC-BY-NC-SA, lets others remix, tweak and build on work if they give credit to the original author, but only for non-commercial (NC) purposes, and only if they license what they produce under the same terms (SA, or 'share-alike'). A third licence, CC-BY-NC-ND, is the most restrictive, allowing others to download and share work, but not to change it in any way (ND, 'no derivative works'), or use it commercially. The results from Scientific Reports shows that, for the 685 papers accepted by the journal, authors chose either of the more restrictive licences 95% of the time — and the most restrictive, CC-BY-NC-ND, 68% of the time."
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Researchers Opt To Limit Uses of Open-access Publications

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  • CC-BY-ND (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IRWolfie- (1148617) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @08:58AM (#42819567)
    Where's the CC-BY-ND option? I would have thought most scientists would not want others to alter their work because it is not technical documentation or code, but an expression of their own thoughts.
  • by fantomas (94850) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @08:58AM (#42819571)

    "Researchers don't generally care about their papers being open access or not."

    - quite a blanket statement. Quite a few researchers in my area are very enthusiastic about open access journals from a philosophical standpoint rather than "because they are easy to get published in" (plenty of poor quality closed journals fit into that category, they spam us regularly).

    Evidence please. Or we're just slinging personal anecdotes here. Which wouldn't get us published in a decent peer-reviewed journal ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @08:59AM (#42819583)

    I would disagree with the statement that open-access journals are somehow cheaper or of lower quality. Nature and PLoS both have open access journals in which the quality of research must be fairly rigorous. As well, both of these publications are more expensive to publish in, precisely because there is no print-ad revenue to offset the cost of the publication. I think that researchers do care about open access, whether or not their funding agencies mandate open-access (as an aside, if tax dollars funded the research, it should be accessible to the general public). The difficulty of a a completely open license, such as CC-BY, would allow commercial entities to profit from their work without means of recognition or attribution, as well as the potential to steal, or misrepresent, their intellectual ideas. As a result, I'm not surprised that researchers opt for "more restrictive" licensing, which is meant to ensure that they are properly cited. After all, our best metrics are our open publication record and citation factors.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:07AM (#42819643)

    CC-BY-NC-ND is enough for the basic open access idea. Researchers can be sure that their papers can be easily and cheaply accessed by everyone interested. This license covers only the paper as a whole and ensures its (textual) integrety. The readers can still use its ideas (potential patents are independent of the paper and its license) and cite it according to the normal fair use and scientific writing rules.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:08AM (#42819649) Homepage

    Open access is ensuring that everyone can read your papers. All the other CC ones are about derivative work rights, which is orthogonal to open access.

    In fact, its rather silly to even think of: Quoting papers is fair use, but modifying scientific papers? You don't want third parties modifying the papers: they can easily screw things up as the paper is only part of the process, there is also the data and analysis behind it.

    So of the choices given, CC-BY-NC-ND is the only one that should be in that list.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:14AM (#42819685) Journal

    There's also the fact that data isn't copyrightable. It's just facts. The important issue with open access research is that the data is available for others to analyze. A CC-ND license does not prevent that.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:14AM (#42819687) Journal

    Researchers don't generally care about their papers being open access or not. They use open access journals because they are easy to get published in (they are mostly 'author pays' publications with very low standards) or because their funder mandates it.

    Not true at all. Most researchers (I would say it's a large majority) prefer open-access because of the better exposure of their work, and because of an innate desire to share their science with everybody. There are scientists with views differing from this, but they are, as far as I could see (and I, as a researcher that travels a lot to conferences and does research abroad often, have met a huge number of my colleagues) a small minority.

  • by water-vole (1183257) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:21AM (#42819733)
    As a scientist I want everyone to be able to read my work. But if I write an article I don't want to allow others to modify it. If they change it, put their name on it and publish it anywhere, then they are commiting plagiarism, which is one of the most serious crimes in the scientific world. If they change it and leave my name on it, then they are publishing something I did not approve in my name, which is probably even worse.
  • by elfprince13 (1521333) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:24AM (#42819755) Homepage
    and what field are you in? Sharing culture varies radically depending on discipline.
  • Almost right..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:32AM (#42819829)

    Science researchers live and die by their publications. Their papers are their currency. To let someone completely modify it and not even attribute it back to them is near professional suicide, unless you're already so famous that you don't need additional papers. As a result, you're right, they don't care that much whether journals are open access or not. They really care about whether publishing their paper somewhere is going to help their career, or hurt it. The first license is at best not going to help, at worst going to hurt it. That leaves the other two, with the final one being the one that guarantees that your name will stay attached to it, and that it will stay as they wrote it.

    Note that even the final license let's anyone view it, download it and pass it around. That's pretty damn good open access, and exactly what is needed. The rest is just what the scientists want to see happen to their paper.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:56AM (#42820073) Journal

    And -ND makes citations impossible

    That's a total misunderstanding. As is this:

    -NC cannot be quoted in research done commercially.

    The license can only grant extra rights not afforded by copyright, it cannot take away rights. Fair use built into copyright allows for quoting. No license can take away that right.

  • by psnyder (1326089) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @10:44AM (#42820457)
    This! CC-BY-NC-ND is already an extremely open license. It can be shared and read freely so that other researchers can get ideas from it for their own research.

    What other people CAN'T do:
    • BY: they can't plagiarize (they must attribute the work)
    • NC: they can't sell it (non-commercial purposes only)
    • ND: they can't paraphrase and take things out of context (if someone copies it, they copy the full paper, in its original form)

    The article worries about the inability to do text mining and translations. Good points, and they mention an organization working on a license just like the CC-BY-NC-ND that would allow text mining and translations. Good for them.

    The rest of it is FUD claiming researchers don't understand the license. I disagree. CC-BY-NC-ND is being used the most because its the best license for openly sharing while still protecting their work.

  • by cozziewozzie (344246) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:07PM (#42821365)

    I completely agree and was stumped by the article. CC-BY-NC-ND is chosen because it is the most meaningful license for the job.

    A good paper takes many weeks (sometimes months) of careful preparation, and every word is weighed heavily. Careless rephrasing and remixing by somebody who does not fully understand the paper (and this is very common with advanced topics) can kill your career.

    People are already allowed to share it free of charge, read it free of charge, reproduce the ideas therein, build upon these ideas, and using excerpts and figures from the paper is already covered by fair use in most countries. If you really need somebody's exact text, you cite it.

    I'm a proponent of sharing, but what exactly is the point of releasing scientific articles under CC-BY? Only scientists and highly technical people read them anyway, and they have no use for CC-BY. Is it so some publisher can sell it although it's freely available? So someone can plagiarise and "remix" your paper? Such a paper would be rejected by any sane conference or journal anyway. Who exactly is being harmed here?

  • by lorinc (2470890) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:40PM (#42823327) Homepage Journal

    I would also have chosen the BY-NC-ND package even if I don't care about the NC aspect just because it is the only one to have the ND claim. This one is fundamental for a research paper.

    If you take into account the time spent to write a good paper, every single word has been carefully crafted for hours. The idea to allow paraphrase or remixes is at best non-sense, most of the time it's just a very bad idea.

    I'm pretty sure the authors in the study choose ND, and what ever the remaining condition, because as a researcher, there is just no way I could allow you to make me say something I was not meaning to say in the first place.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @03:01PM (#42823613)

    It's not necessary. The "can't build upon" for a scientific paper can really only be interpreted as you can't keep my paper as is, but add bits of your own to it.

    Building upon published work in the usual scientific way is not governed by copyright at all, so it cannot be restricted by a copyright license.

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