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Current Scientific Publishing Methods Problematic 154

A recent examination of current scientific publishing methods shows that they are problematic at best, treating the entire process like an economic system, with publishers as bidders at an auction, authors as sellers, and the community at large as consumers. "The authors then go on to discuss a variety of economic terms that they think apply to publishing, but the quality of the analogies varies quite a bit. It's easy to accept that the limited number of high-profile publishers act as an oligarchy and that they add value through branding. Some of the other links are significantly more tenuous. The authors argue that scientific research suffers from an uncertain valuation, but this would require that the consumers — the scientists — can't accurately judge what's significant. "
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Current Scientific Publishing Methods Problematic

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  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:22PM (#25358041)

    When have we ever had free markets?

    It is tough to have a free market when there is a monopoly on the issuance of money controlled by a private cartel.

    If the America people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currencies, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their prosperity until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

    Thomas Jefferson

  • by Sarutobi ( 1135167 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:27PM (#25358117)
    No, scientists do not get paid for the papers they write by the journals. Their reputation though is almost solely built upon their published work. Also, universities often give a bonus if a certain number of publications is written during a year. Same with government grants.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:34PM (#25358239) Journal

    No, authors don't get paid to appear in journals like Science and Nature. In fact, in most cases the author pays a fee for the space in the journal. It's a total racket.

    The benefit to the author is that he can put the paper in his CV. The more big name journals you publish in, the more likely it is that you'll get grant funding and that all important tenure. It's publish or perish out there.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:37PM (#25358301) Journal

    Thankfully, the NIH has seen the light and now requires that all papers funded by NIH grants are deposited in the open access PubMed Central []. So now biologists can get in on the open access fun.

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:39PM (#25358343)

    I looked at scientific journals, and I honestly can't see much of an incentive to appear there. I mean sure, you might get published and that's got some merit...

    Some merit? In many academic institutions, number of papers published in respectable journals is the preferred metric of performance, and will affect your promotion and the status/funding of your institution.

    YMMV depending on the level of enlightenment and subject area of your institution - there are, of course, other aspects which can and should count - but number of papers is the "gold standard" and the safe bet.

    If this were a scientific paper, I'd back that up with some references (but my institution definitely doesn't recognise /. karma and mod points, so I can't be arsed).

  • by Relic of the Future ( 118669 ) <> on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:50PM (#25358525)
    No. Follow the first link in the linked story (here, I'll save you the trouble [].) It is precisely about the legislation being proposed which would ELMINATE OR STRONGLY RESRICT that acess, being lobbied for by the publishers (using the (poor) arguments in today's linked article.)
  • by Convector ( 897502 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:54PM (#25358567)
    I agree those kind of fees are ridiculous. With a bit more effort, you can often work around that. Most scientists will post their own papers to a personal website for free (The copyright agreement with the publisher typically allows this). If the author has no such site, they will still provide the paper in response to an email request. The authors want you to read their work, and don't care if you pay for it or not, since they see none of the money in any case. What I think is truly wretched is that most publishers charge the authors AND the readers for the publication.
  • by martinw89 ( 1229324 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @02:16PM (#25358905)

    Thanks, I thought it up after smoking two joints.

  • History check (Score:5, Informative)

    by DanOrc451 ( 1302609 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @02:31PM (#25359085)

    I love Thomas Jefferson as much as the next American, but there are certain things you listen to him on and some things you don't. Civil liberties, the scope of government, certainly. The economy.... not so much.

    Jefferson wanted us to farm our way to victory. Here's some primary source stuff [] on the subject for your edification/amusement.

    Just because he's a founding father doesn't make him a visionary on everything. See also: slavery.

  • by Kintanon ( 65528 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:58PM (#25360327) Homepage Journal

    Do any of you idiots who say this actually know the root cause of the current financial implosion?
    It's a damned housing bill from the early 90s (Clinton years) which forced lenders to offer mortgages to lower income minorities whether they could afford those mortgages or not. That compulsion spawned huge growth in the housing market and an entire industry built around buying and selling those mortgages and the associated real-estate as well as cashing in on the inflated housing prices caused by the increased demand.
    When those low income people suddenly couldn't afford to pay for their federally mandated loans anymore the bottom dropped out of everything.
    So don't blame economists, or the free market, or running the country like a business for any of this shit. Blame the entitlement minded idiots that insisted that "greedy" banks give loans to people who couldn't afford them.

    Community Reinvestment Act. Suck it bitches.
    Relevant text is from the 1992 legislative changes. Enjoy.

  • by bob_herrick ( 784633 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:04PM (#25360411)

    What is wrong with the free market? When has it ever failed us?

    A softball question. One simple example of the failure of the market is the apparent inability of science publishers, particularly in the pharma area, to publish so-called negative results or to spin negative results as if they are postive. In epidemiology and in pharmacology, negative results are at least as important as postive ones ("first, do no harm"). Yet, the greater economic forces of pharmaceutical sales (and nutricutical sales, and outright woo sales) incent the supression, or simple failure to publish, of such findings in pernicious ways. Check out Ben Goldacre's site (and buy his book while you are there) []. Tucked away among various rants against, among other things, media coverage of medicine, you will find several discussions about this very phenomonon, and why it is so incredibly bad.

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27