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Education Science

Faculty Votes For Open Access Policy At UC San Francisco 146

Marian the Librarian writes "UCSF is among the first public institutions to adopt an open access policy, and is the largest scientific institution to have such a policy. The policy, voted unanimously by the faculty, will allow UCSF authors to put electronic versions of their published scientific articles on an open access repository making their research findings freely available to the public. Dr. Richard A. Schneider, who led the initiative, said, 'Our primary motivation is to make our research available to anyone who is interested in it, whether they are members of the general public or scientists without costly subscriptions to journals. The decision is a huge step forward in eliminating barriers to scientific research.'"
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Faculty Votes For Open Access Policy At UC San Francisco

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  • Good, now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @09:47AM (#40108611)
    Now, let's get other big institutions on board with this, and then let's turn to the problem of journals. We really do not need journals anymore; their primary function is to distribute papers to other researchers, which can be done online, and peer review and editing can be done by professors at universities (and this is frequently the case anyway -- often unpaid). The Internet connects researchers to each other, so why are we not using it to accomplish these goals?

    In any case, this is a good first step.
  • Re:Good, now... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:02AM (#40108699) Homepage Journal

    The Internet already made this point moot, friend.

  • Re:Good, now... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:07AM (#40108745)
    Which I addressed in my post, but for clarity:
    1. Peer review is often unpaid under the current system
    2. You do not need a journal to organize peer review when researchers can communicate with each other rapidly on the Internet
  • Re:Copyrights? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:12AM (#40108769)
    Not necessarily a step backwards; it could be a step towards ending the anachronism that is journal publishing. Really, what are journals doing for us these days, that cannot be done online?
    1. Researchers can be organized over the Internet to participate in peer review; this is already done voluntarily in many cases under the current system.
    2. Editing can be coordinated online as well, and is likewise often done by unpaid volunteers.
    3. Papers can be distributed to researchers over the Internet instead of being bound and printed.

    So really, the only thing that journals have left at this point is their names -- a paper in a "top journal" looks good on a CV, regardless of whether or not the paper is really groundbreaking. Is that really something that justifies the continued existence of journals? I think not...

  • Re:Good, now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noh8rz3 ( 2593935 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:21AM (#40108829)
    no, the internet has made this question more relevant than ever. In a time of free and rapid dissemination of information, how can we judge the validity of that information. This is especially important if you're going to suggest supplanting a peer reviewed journal with open access. I await your answer!
  • Re:Good, now... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:28AM (#40108875)

    Did you just not see the "peer review and editing can be done by professors at universities " part what you are replying to?

    The basic model of journals (not all use it of course) is:

    * Papers are submitted with no payment to the authors.
    * Papers are sent for review to experts - usually university professors (who often then oass it to their doctorate students) - with no payment to the reviewers.
    * The journal then prints the accepted papers and sells them to the very places that both supplies the work and the reviewers for free.

    Now there is a bunch of administration work the journal does, but we have computers these days, and universities already have a bunch of admin staff.

    The return the reviewers/submitters get is the prestige of being published in a respected journal and of being a reviewer/editor for a respected journal. The same thing would apply if the journals stopped being money siphoning devices.

    The main issue is certain journals are prestigious now and that takes time to change. If you have what you believe is a great piece of research now, where are you going to submit it? The prestigious journal that looks great on your list of publications and likely pulls in more grant money but that charges a fortune to libraries to buy it? Or that new relatively unknown journal that sells to libraries at cost (electronic copy free)?

    Hopefully the newer fields can get the ball rolling since they don't have as much of the existing prestige problem.

  • Re:Good, now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:47AM (#40109023) Homepage

    The Internet already made this point moot, friend.

    Yes, because we all know you can believe everything on the internet.

    Seriously, look at Wikipedia and loads of other things which get petty little squabbles about what is "true" and people spinning it to make their own point.

    Good, solid, reliable peer-reviewed stuff (and I mean qualified peers, not random people on the internet) is much harder to achieve than wikipedia.

    Think of how many "think tanks" put out position papers on behalf of whoever is paying for them -- much of that would utterly fail in a peer-reviewed context, but they get put out there to say "see, our opinion on science is just as valid as these guys". Joe Average has no idea this is just a tactic to muddy the waters -- it sounds awfully science-y to him.

    I think the internet has done the opposite of making peer-reviewed journals moot. Hell, we keep hearing how much of science is absolutely unbelievable as the authors fail to use any meaningful scientific rigor.

  • Re:Good, now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:56AM (#40109097)

    Want to guess who does the actual "peer reviewing"? You know... who judges the validity of published information and analysis...

    Hint: it's not publishers.

    It's the scientists themselves. And they do it without any type of monetary compensation (i.e. for free/gratis).

    Scientists do the work.
    (Other) scientists review the work.
    Publishers only do typesetting, rip-off scientists of their intellectual property right and little more than that.

    On the other hand... taxpayers ALREADY have to pay scientists to do research, already have to pay for scientists to spend their time doing peer-review, already have to give money to libraries so they can pay the publishers for their subscriptions (i.e. access to the research that was already funded by taxpayers to begin with). And... yeah... if they want to access that research that was bought and paid for them, guess what? THEY HAVE TO PAY YET AGAIN.

    Here's a crazy idea... take all the money that universities and libraries pay to publishers worldwide and use it to enable "open access initiatives" to have the required tools and expertise (mostly at the level of typesetting, since everything else is already covered by scientists anyway) for preparation and free dissemination of high-quality publications.

    Meanwhile... in the real world... current (i.e. already existing) open access journals are ALREADY some of the most reputed venues for scientific publication (e.g. "BMC Genomics"). So... yeah, no need to refute you when Reality already does it for me.

    Please... do tell... in what way does the "open access" model (as opposed to the "pay-wall" model of scientific publishing) prevent scientists from doing what they already are doing for free (i.e. peer-review)? I await your answer!

  • Re:Copyrights? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by noh8rz3 ( 2593935 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @11:14AM (#40109253)

    The only thing that needs to be done is for the researchers to be organized, but that is something that can be done cooperatively and which does not require a publishing company to facilitate.

    I can see a role here for a peer review facilitiator to come in, manage the process, and give it a certification that the industry accepts as valid. Perhaps this would cost the publishing institution ~$1000, but then the paper would be free to all. Once this piece of the puzzle comes into place, then I agree that journals can go by the wayside. You wanna go into business?

  • Re:Good, now... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by uncqual ( 836337 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:49PM (#40110073)

    Aren't there some important missing steps in that process for respected journals? Those steps being performed by technical editors who:

    • * Review the flood of papers they receive.
    • * Reject the vast majority of papers received.
    • * Select appropriate reviewers for the remaining papers.
    • * Coordinate updates among reviewers/authors.
    • * Make a final publish/no publish decision.

    Although these steps don't (I think) justify the outrageous prices for many journal subscriptions, it's a lot of tedious work that requires technical expertise and I'm not sure one can find enough unpaid qualified gatekeepers to do it reliably and in sufficient volume consistently enough.

    These steps seem to be important to maintain the reputation of the journal by not passing too much unworthy BS to reviewers (thereby resulting in them withdrawing from the review pool) and by not rejecting too much really important work (that later gets published in a lesser journal raising its relative ranking and increasing fragmentation in the field and resulting in a lot of "fairly good" journals but no "great" journals in a field)

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton