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Education The Almighty Buck Science

Should All Research Papers Be Free? (nytimes.com) 191

An anonymous reader points us to an article at The New York Times: There's a battle raging over whether all academic research papers should be made free to all. These academic papers are typically locked behind paywalls, and only those who have access to the university network and pay a premium subscription fee get to read these papers. "Realistically only scientists at really big, well-funded universities in the developed world have full access to published research," said Michael Eisen, a professor of genetics, genomics and development at the University of California, Berkeley, and a longtime champion of open access. "The current system slows science by slowing communication of work, slows it by limiting the number of people who can access information and quashes the ability to do the kind of data analysis" that is possible when articles aren't "sitting on various siloed databases."
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Should All Research Papers Be Free?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:24PM (#51700795)

    Most academic papers are published with financial support from federal funding agencies. Too bad publishing academic papers is a private industry with a profit motive to keep you from accessing them. Swartz died over this.

    • Every One (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Etherwalk ( 681268 )

      Most academic papers are published with financial support from federal funding agencies. Too bad publishing academic papers is a private industry with a profit motive to keep you from accessing them. Swartz died over this.

      Most? Almost every one in the country. Schools are funded by tuition and tuition is primary sponsored by MASSIVE government loans that basically allow schools to set tuition for students at any price, on government credit. Part of the school budget should be used to fund journals.

      • Re:Every One (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AntronArgaiv ( 4043705 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:49PM (#51700995)

        Most academic papers are published with financial support from federal funding agencies. Too bad publishing academic papers is a private industry with a profit motive to keep you from accessing them. Swartz died over this.

        Most? Almost every one in the country. Schools are funded by tuition and tuition is primary sponsored by MASSIVE government loans that basically allow schools to set tuition for students at any price, on government credit. Part of the school budget should be used to fund journals.

        If federal funds helped to pay for the paper, why isn't it publicly available? We (the people) have already paid for the work to be done, we should be able to see the results.

        • Re:Every One (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @01:10PM (#51701185)

          If federal funds helped to pay for the paper, why isn't it publicly available? We (the people) have already paid for the work to be done, we should be able to see the results.

          Agreed. (I'm a researcher; thanks for the pay!)

          In the field of medicine, in the US, federal guidelines now state that any publications based on research funded by the NIH must be publicly available. The journals capitulated, and now make special arrangements if you tick a box during submission saying that you have received NIH funding.

          In physics and astronomy, worldwide, almost every paper that is published in a journal is also published by the authors on the free preprint server arxiv.org . The journals don't like researchers making their preprints freely available, but any journal that forbade it would quickly find that no one submitted papers to them any more.

          Generally, researchers want their work to be freely available, because they want people to read it. The only obstacle is the journals, and they're losing ground.

          • This is great timeing as it's not just the NYT that's discussing this. In the Febuary 18th issuse, Nature talks about an arxiv for biology called bioRxiv were biologist can post their pre-prints: http://www.nature.com/news/bio... [nature.com]

            As a biologist frustrated with publication turnaround times, I took some time to encourage a collaborator to submit one of our manuscripts to bioRxiv this morning.
            • Good luck with that (really).

              The problem with unlike physics, biologists appear to think it doesn't count (and so do the journals) so people will cheerfully try to reproduce your work and publish first. For some unfathomable reason that "counts" more than being the first on the archive.

              Until the journals, reviewers and editors fix that attitude, it's never going to take off to the extent that it has in physics.

          • I agree that the papers should all be freely available but we need a system to make this work properly. The old system where it was free to publish but you had to pay for the journal got the financial incentives in line with the scientific aims: if your journal published the leading articles in the field then institutes would line up to pay for it so the incentive was to select excellent papers.

            The new "pay to publish" system does not do this. Instead there is a financial incentive to accept any paper th
            • The older system was "peer review" (different than the current review by a class of Peers) where people like Newton would publish their work as "open letters" that would then be re-printed by journals. The older system that that replaced was where the publishers controlled what got published, and it sucked. That's why Newton and the others were doing it differently.

              Now the situation is the same as in Newton's day, but the publishers controlling everything is being called "Peer review" and making it availabl

            • The old system was designed for print media. Printing and distribution were expensive and page space was limited so journals had to be selective. The better editors had an eye for papers more likely to draw interest and citations so their journals got better reputations.

              With online publishing, all this has changed - online space is almost limitless and can be searched/mined in new and interesting ways. The old rules no longer apply and reputation/ratings can be managed in other ways for each paper: Is it pe

        • by UltraOne ( 79272 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @01:32PM (#51701365) Homepage

          Most US Federal funding sources require that articles about research they support be available for public access by 12 months after publication. The MIT libraries have a good summary [mit.edu] of the various rules. This includes the biggest funding sources for biomedical research: NIH and DoD.

          What seems puzzling about the current situation is that because of features unique to academic publishing (the need for researchers to publish to advance their careers, the sources of funding) there is a fairly straightforward way to pay for open access (at least from within academia).

          Under the traditional system, university libraries pay publishers for access to journals. The libraries, in turn, get at least part of their money from "indirect cost" charges from research grants. For those not familiar with that term, it is like a tax that a university (or other research organization) levies on research grants to pay for things that are needed to do research, but not a direct line-item cost included in the grant. For example, the salaries of researchers and research supplies are direct costs. Access to the university library and use of the building that the research is conducted in (and its utilities and maintenance) are indirect costs. Equipment or centralized services (e.g. statistical consulting) may be direct or indirect costs depending on university and the specific grant. Typical indirect cost rates are about 50%, so that if an investigator gets a grant for $200,000 of direct costs, the granting institution will pay the university an additional $100,000 to cover indirect costs.

          Another way to route the money would be for publishers to make journals open access, but charge researches to publish articles. Publishing costs would become a direct cost line item on research grants, but the indirect cost rate would decrease since libraries would no longer be paying for access. For the system as a whole, the ultimate origin (granting agencies) and terminus (publishers) of publication costs would remain the same. I suspect there would also be major changes in how the money was distributed between researchers and institutions. For example, one worry about an open access system is that although it would make it easier for less well funded laboratories (either in less prestigious institutions or headed by junior researchers) to do work, there would be a bigger barrier for them to publish because it would cost a lot more than it does now. It would also require more of a commitment from universities to support publication of research that is not funded by grants (e.g. a lot of clinical research).

          So my conclusion is that although open access is a viable alternative, changing completely to that model would involve a lot of disruption and would inevitably create winners and losers (both academically and financially) compared to the current model. Resistance on the part of the potential losers and inertia are what is slowing down or holding back the switch.

          • by chihowa ( 366380 )

            ...the indirect cost rate would decrease...

            Indirect rates are already opaque and only vaguely justified, so I really doubt that any change in actual costs would be reflected in the indirect rates. Savings in the library's budget will be offset by an increase in administrative overhead somewhere else. Indirects are more like a tax than anything else, and will only go down if the ability of the university's faculty to acquire grants is harmed too much by their current rates.

            What will happen in your situation is that indirects will remain the same and

          • While there a good reasons to be wary of paying to publish where there is an incentive to publish lousy articles because the publisher wants the money, the current system is abusive and is tantamount to theft. I worked part time in a lab for 3 years. I was not paid - and yes I asked for money but they said they could not afford to pay me. However I did get a paper out of it! Yay! Except that even though it was my research, my labor, my stressing out over repeating the experiments many times to convince my P
            • If you don't mind me asking - which journal did you submit to that didn't give a (legal) copy to every author?

              As to your right to property - most places have contracts you have to sign before doing research as a student, saying that you can't make money off of your research there, etc. You may have signed over your right to property in this instance when you agreed to work in a lab. I'm not saying that's right - it can lead to some unfortunate situations, like yours - but I understand why they did it.
          • Your proposed system is interesting, certainly. However, I'd like to point out that some journals do actually charge researchers to publish, and charge subscription fees. Some other journals are freely available, but (generally) charge researchers more to publish their work. Those journals, unfortunately, tend to be less selective in what they publish, so some researchers avoid them because it's not as good for their career.
            • by UltraOne ( 79272 )

              You are correct that there are journals that both charge to publish (typically called "page fees") and also charge a subscription. In general, those fees are a lot lower than the publication charges at journals that do not charge for subscriptions.

              As far as the selectivity, I don't see that as an intrinsic feature of the open access model, but more a reflection of the fact that right now, open access journals are newer. Since it usually takes time to build up the positive feedback loop that gives a journal

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      The thing is that most federal agencies require "public" data sharing for any grants >500k. The reality is that nobody does it.

      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        It is quite easy to comply with the technical side of data availability will the form of that data makes replication of the results nearly impossible. this may not even be deliberate, as often you have a lot of your own scripts and things are glued together with a bunch of bash one liners.
    • It depends on what you mean by free. If you mean free to read. Yes definitely. If you mean free to publish in. No definitely not.
      What I want is far fewer papers to read. People should stop publishing shit and salami science and instead publish definitive accomplishments. Journals serve an enormous purpose when they provide editorial control to reject crap and solicit review articles and collections of alike articles from many people in the same field. The latter encourages reading broadly, and brings

    • So here is the thing. If the paper is a deliverable of the Federal contract... meaning that it is something sent to the Federal Government as part of the research grant, then yes absolutely the Federal government should be making those papers available to the public.

      Notice I said it was on the Federal government to provide access. Has anyone submitted a FOIA request to the sponsoring agencies for research papers? Those papers could then be put online by whomever.

    • Most academic papers are published with financial support from federal funding agencies. Too bad publishing academic papers is a private industry with a profit motive to keep you from accessing them.

      Actually, most publicly funded research is now required to be published in publicly accessible ways:

      Granted, those came in to existence in the past decade or so, which leaves a lot of old papers not covered and subject to the whims of the publisher. Regardless, pretty well every existing research grant in the US from the federal government is now subject to those terms. The big for-profit publishers (think Nature and others) ha

    • Okay, so you believe that since some funding came from federal funding agencies for most papers (which, for the record, I agree with), propose a different model for scientific publishing. If you designed the system, how would it work?
    • It's not just a moral obligation to make the fruit of public research publicly available, for researchers it is rapidly becoming a matter of survival. As far as I'm concerned, if a research paper is siloed behind a paywall, it doesn't exist. While that's a bit of a black and white attitude that makes some research unavailable to me, the trend is, there's such a huge flood of papers that are freely available that any paywalled bits tend to be covered or soon will be. Sure, there are still lots of disciplines

    • Swartz killed himself because he was mentally ill and not able to see the multitude of possible ways he could have extricated himself from the situation he found himself in, ways that would have allowed him to continue to be an effective advocate.
    • by jmd ( 14060 )

      Not only are many research papers federally funded (at least in part) but many are also funded at the state level. My father's work at Ohio State University is in large part behind paywalls.

  • Uh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:26PM (#51700809)

    Yes.

    Next question.

  • I'm not in academia, but I've published a bunch of (mostly IT security) research to be freely read by the public under my own copyright or the copyright of a company that's hired me. My serious question is: what is to prevent individual researchers from just publishing what they have as a PDF or WordPress article on a random site on the Internet? (e.g. are there rules in their contract that says they can only publish through so-and-so service, who has the copyright of academic research, etc.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by i_ate_god ( 899684 )

      lack of peer review

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Peer Review isn't all that it is cracked up to be. THE only real review is when peers can actually review the work. Just being published behind a paywall doesn't mean it is reviewed, by anyone.

        http://www.natureworldnews.com... [natureworldnews.com]

        https://www.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com]

        Give the world access, and the papers will be peer reviewed.

        • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @01:52PM (#51701557) Journal

          Peer Review isn't all that it is cracked up to be. THE only real review is when peers can actually review the work. Just being published behind a paywall doesn't mean it is reviewed, by anyone.

          Non sequitur.

          You can't dismiss peer review just because some for-profit publishers failed to ensure it was done.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by jedidiah ( 1196 )

            Sure you can. The "seal of approval" has been diluted. It's like diluting any trademark. Once that trust has been betrayed, then it is rightfully difficult to regain it. It doesn't matter if it's journalism or "science".

            The time for separate gatekeepers is at an end. Each contributing entity can publish and vet their own work. We don't have the overhead of dead tree publishing anymore and should jettison the other vestiges of such dinosaurs.

            Science is ultimately about reproducible results. Results are defin

            • Sure you can. The "seal of approval" has been diluted. It's like diluting any trademark. Once that trust has been betrayed, then it is rightfully difficult to regain it. It doesn't matter if it's journalism or "science".

              It is not the process of peer-review that suffers the dilution. It is the journal that suffers it, for not engaging in proper peer-review in the first place. That was my point.

              • Define "Proper Peer Review". I can see no more "perfect" review than having the publication made public so that it CAN be reviewed by anyone, and not self appointed gatekeepers of the results.

                When I see publications saying "We did the research, and no you can't see it, but here is what it means ... trust us", my Spidey Sense goes off. THAT is not science, it is religion.

        • That depends on the journal. Some journals do good peer review most of the time, some don't. It's often not readily obvious to someone outside that field whether it's a good journal, but just because peer review is done poorly in some places doesn't mean it's done poorly everywhere.
          • by delt0r ( 999393 )
            No its not. Some of the worst science published is in Nature and Science. These are consider the "good journals". Yet they simply are not good journals by any resonable metric of retracted studies, bullshit and otherwise just bad science that is peddled up and sold on a good story.

            Scientists are their own worst enemy.
      • lack of peer review

        Perhaps the solution for Journals then is to actually ensure peer review is happening, and instead of going for exclusivity on all papers being published, focus on the very best papers for the field the journal is attempting to cover. So you're paying the journal good money to review and select exceptionally good papers, from what might end up being a sea of low quality or in many cases, lunatic fringe, papers.

    • by bahwi ( 43111 )

      Spam, basically. Journals serve to reduce the amount of bad research / falsified research. It's an uphill battle now, with reviewers, editors, and journals charging. Open access journals typically charge significantly more to publish in.

      Note, I'm not defending anyone here. Journals charge a lot, but editors and reviewers work for free (it's an expected responsibility, so you typically can do it during regular working hours).

      • Mostly they're defending against bad resarch. As someone who has done lots of reviews, I'd say that figuring out maliciously falsified stuff is much, much harder than rejecting plain awful crap. I've encountered one paper once where I reason to suspect some dubious data, but it could have been down to a terrible experimental setup rather than falsification---the experiments were terrible.

        It does happen, but peer review is more to check things are running OK if everyone is being reasonably honest (most peopl

        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          last year i reviewed over 30 papers. I had 6 in one week at one point. What pisses me off is that it is not reciprocated with my papers with some shockling bad reviews. One even scooped me after continusly rejecting a paper for over a year.
          • What pisses me off is that it is not reciprocated with my papers with some shockling bad reviews.

            I know what you mean. I'm nostly on the outside now, so I get asked to review but don't submit. I still review because that's how the system works. I do always try to be fair, but I reject I think most of the papers that cross my desk.

            One thing I almost never do is ask for more experiemnts. That's often the sign of a cowardly reviewer: not sure what to say so ask for more experiments by default! One venue I rev

    • by macklin01 ( 760841 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:39PM (#51700905) Homepage

      I'm not in academia, but I've published a bunch of (mostly IT security) research to be freely read by the public under my own copyright or the copyright of a company that's hired me. My serious question is: what is to prevent individual researchers from just publishing what they have as a PDF or WordPress article on a random site on the Internet? (e.g. are there rules in their contract that says they can only publish through so-and-so service, who has the copyright of academic research, etc.)

      In part, this is what preprint servers like arxiv [arxiv.org] and bioarxiv [biorxiv.org] are for.

      However, there are deeper-rooted, cultural issues at play here. Academics are rated on their job performance (for keeping your position, finding tenure-track positions, and later attaining tenure) based upon their peer-reviewed publications. Traditionally, this has meant going through the private, paywalled journals.Likewise, getting grants requires publications in peer-reviewed journals, rather than just posting online.

      Now, posting in open access journals (like the PLOS family of journals, PeerJ, etc.) helps here, since at the least the access isn't paywalled. But now the academic / lab itself has to pay a much larger publication fee. (Often on the order of $1500 per article.) Moreover, many of said tenure review panels and grant review committees judge you not just on whether you've published, but where. Impact factor matters, and that again tends to steer people towards glammy, paywalled journals like New England Journal of Medicine (which just made a big kerfluffle about research parasites), Nature, Science, etc.)

      So, there's a lot going on here. And even the scientists who want to just post preprints and move on are facing tremendous pressures.

    • One reason I can think of is that journals offer a sort of legitimacy, both through peer review and having to uphold their own reputation. There's no reason this couldn't be done with open papers as well, but there would have to be some sort of organization to the process.
    • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:51PM (#51701013)

      My serious question is: what is to prevent individual researchers from just publishing what they have as a PDF or WordPress article on a random site on the Internet?

      In order to be published, they have to sign over either the copyright or exclusive rights. Which generally includes even giving their students copies of their own papers.

    • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @01:01PM (#51701093)

      My serious question is: what is to prevent individual researchers from just publishing what they have as a PDF or WordPress article on a random site on the Internet?

      Several things and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

      1) It's hard to cite articles not published in the standard fashion. Citations matter for professional reputation and advancement in academia.
      2) Being published in professional journals (especially key ones for their field) is a big part of their ability to get tenure and grants. (publish or perish)
      3) Journals are distributed to interested parties. Just putting a PDF on a web server doesn't mean interested parties will know it exists.
      4) Continued availability - journals are maintained by libraries and publishing companies so future researchers can find them. Easy for a URL to just vanish.

      • My serious question is: what is to prevent individual researchers from just publishing what they have as a PDF or WordPress article on a random site on the Internet?

        Several things and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

        Valid points, all. Some more thoughts on each:

        1) It's hard to cite articles not published in the standard fashion. Citations matter for professional reputation and advancement in academia.

        Arxiv.org is pretty well standardized at this point. So are DOIs. As for the reputation of the cited medium, well, that's a chicken-and-egg problem, but there are signs of increasing fertility among the open-access chickens.

        2) Being published in professional journals (especially key ones for their field) is a big part of their ability to get tenure and grants. (publish or perish)

        Again, chicken-and-egg. Big, reputable journals attract and publish big, reputable work, which boosts and maintains their size and reputation. But sucking away resources for the profit of the journal owners adds significant friction to scient

      • Agreed on all counts.

        There are things like ResearchGate, where you can post your published works and other researchers in your field can see them, regardless of whether they are on an institutional network or not, but posting something solely there, or on arxiv, does nothing to increase the visibility of your work as a researcher, which is the primary purpose of publishing in the first place. Plus, mainstream publishers have something of a duty to maintain their archives, as you allude to. ResearchGate
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      I'm not in academia, but I've published a bunch of (mostly IT security) research to be freely read by the public under my own copyright or the copyright of a company that's hired me. My serious question is: what is to prevent individual researchers from just publishing what they have as a PDF or WordPress article on a random site on the Internet? (e.g. are there rules in their contract that says they can only publish through so-and-so service, who has the copyright of academic research, etc.)

      Easy - a lot of

    • My serious question is: what is to prevent individual researchers from just publishing what they have as a PDF or WordPress article on a random site on the Internet?

      The main problem is not that there are rules against it, but simply that if you don't publish in an accepted, refereed journal--it doesn't count. Nobody will read you, nobody will cite you, and most of all you won't get any credit for being published, without which a research scientist has no career, and probably no job.

    • There's a couple reasons. First, as i_ate_god pointed out below, is that proper peer review would be nearly impossible. Second, when you have to publish in order to keep your job (or get a better one), self-publishing is such a big risk that you can't do it unless you're already well-established or there's a large shift in the community. Lastly, it's a lot harder to keep track of the field if there are a bunch more websites, etc. that you have to keep an eye on instead of just checking the journals' website
    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Peer review is not great. but it does filter 99% of the bullshit. And that matters. Already i can't keep up, while if i needed to read every nut jobs free energy theory every week it would be impossible. Even after peer review there is a lot of shit, but that is a nice big gain to S/N ratio.
  • by i_ate_god ( 899684 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:31PM (#51700849) Homepage

    Anything that is funded by tax money should be available to the citizens who pay that tax free of charge, at the very least.

    • Anything that is funded by tax money should be available to the citizens who pay that tax free of charge, at the very least.

      That has a certain appeal. But since things like education funding are part of the federal government's discretionary spending budget and thus funded by income tax, that would leave only about half of the citizens allowed to see those documents (since the other half of the population pays no or negative income taxes).

    • If knowledge is available to taxpayers, then it should be available to anyone. Anything less is petty apartheid.

    • "...should be available to the citizens who pay that tax...."

      So the bottom half of US citizens (who pay no federal income tax) shouldn't get to see them? :)

  • Every human activity has a cost. Nothing is free in this world.

    Who will pay to publish and host these papers? Advertisement? How well did that turn out for the Internet?

    • Gee, I don't know. Ask Google.
    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      Hosting can be paid for with ads or a small fee for ad-haters, just like the rest of low-cost/cheap content on the internet.

      The issue no one is discussing is why do only these journals have exclusive rights to publish these papers? Who gave them this right since they didn't pay for the content? If they don't have exclusive rights, anyone can upload the paper to the internet, like the Russian lady did.

      It's quite ridiculous the journal industry makes $10 billion/year while the authors/scientists who publish a

    • Every human activity has a cost. Nothing is free in this world.

      Who will pay to publish and host these papers? Advertisement? How well did that turn out for the Internet?

      Oh who oh who would do such a thing? [arxiv.org]

    • Who will pay to publish and host these papers?

      I'd be willing to do it.

    • Every human activity has a cost. Nothing is free in this world.

      Who will pay to publish and host these papers?

      That becomes less of a problem as time goes by and the cost of moving information approaches zero. For universities, it will soon be a smaller budget component than keeping the lights on and heating the classrooms, even if they have to bear the entire cost themselves. The cost of publication will be a rounding error next to salaries.

  • If they used public funding they aren't free, THEY ARE ALLREADY PAID FOR!! Quit double-dipping, wasn't the free cheese enough??

  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:47PM (#51700975)

    I recently did a paper on Albert Michelson [wikipedia.org] -- who died in 1931, so all of his papers have actually been in the public domain for more than a decade.

    Despite this, I had to do some hunting to find copies that weren't paywalled, even back into the 1880s. Props where due, though -- the Harvard University library collection is excellent, high-resolution, and wide open.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:53PM (#51701031)

    In principle yes they should be free, especially if the research received grant money from taxpayers. However should != can. There are a few problems to resolve before that is possible.

    1) How do you pay for the hosting, publishing, editing, etc? Those things aren't free so someone, somewhere has to pay for them.
    2) Who is responsible for quality control and coordinating peer review when applicable?
    3) Who defends against plagiarism and fraud? (particularly the well funded kind)

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a strong advocate of research (mostly) being widely disseminated for the lowest possible cost but there are some serious logistic and funding issues to work out first. The publishing companies are causing a lot of problems but they do provide some value which would have to be replicated in some fashion to make scientific papers freely available as a practical matter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1) Universities
      2) Universities
      3) Universities

      Seriously, why the fuck is this even an issue?

      Ah, because profit.

    • by pesho ( 843750 )
      All non-issues.

      1) How do you pay for the hosting, publishing, editing, etc? Those things aren't free so someone, somewhere has to pay for them.

      Publication fees. How many of you realize that journals are charging both ends - the authors for publishing and the readers for reading. Universities, through organizations such as SCOPUS

      2) Who is responsible for quality control and coordinating peer review when applicable?

      The editors, same people that do the job today. Typically these are academics who provide this as part of their service and get payed nominal fee.

      3) Who defends against plagiarism and fraud? (particularly the well funded kind)

      Who does that now? Not the journals. This typically picked up during the peer review process or post-publication.

      • Publication fees.

        That's no improvement on what we have now. You are merely trading one publisher for another. What possible expectation could we have that the new publisher will behave any better than the old?

        How many of you realize that journals are charging both ends - the authors for publishing and the readers for reading.

        I would say most professionals who read these journals are aware of this to at least some degree. It's a part of the anger many academics have towards these journals.

        The editors, same people that do the job today. Typically these are academics who provide this as part of their service and get payed nominal fee.

        Some journals work that way but many do not. And even when it does work as you describe you still have the problem of funding if you take the publishe

    • Why do all of those have to be a function of the journal?

      There are existing preservation networks that will serve information for free (eg, Archive.org). Much of the editing should really be costs borne by the author -- some authors require little to no editing, while other times I'm asked to peer review stuff that's absolute crap.** Maybe you do something so that you can help out people w/ editing if they can't afford it so you don't create bias ... but being able to explain your work is in many ways as

  • Make everyone read a 5 paragraph paper from the advertiser before they can download the paper. You need to offset the cost of peer review and hosting.
  • This system of commercial publishing of academic research is nothing new; it arose in Europe and at Europe's public universities long ago. And it continues because academics, publishers, and European governments are so cozy with each other.
    • Spot the guy with a huge chip on his shoulder.

      Your hated academics inventing peer review is what made modern science, and brought it out of the alchemical dark ages with people writing cryptic symbols in code in obscure codexes and turned it into a system for sharing new discoveries an building on the work of others.

      (yeah yeah simplified, there's plenty of holes to pick, but it's not broadly speaking wrong)

      • Where did I say anything about the merit of peer review? What I did was point out that European academics (overwhelmingly government employees) and European publishers colluded in creating a system in which publicly financed research ends up controlled by private publishers. And it is the academics that are ultimately responsible, because they could end this system tomorrow if they wanted to.
        • Where did I say anything about the merit of peer review?

          If you knew anything about the history of commercial academic publishing, you'd realise that youwere taking digs at peer review. I apologise, I assumed you actually had the first clue that you knew what you were talking about. It would appear that I was deeply mistasken.

          What I did was point out that European academics (overwhelmingly government employees)

          In the UK, academics are almost all employed by the university not the government. It is I believe

  • Universities and librarians should decide what journals are worth funding, but the government should fund the journals directly with the requirement of open access.

  • It hurts me to see research papers from the beginning of last century still behind paywalls - I am looking at you, Nature Publishing Group (honestly, all are equally guilty). I was a pioneer in advocating publication in open access journals at the place I got my PhD from, and I actually god my supervisor to join the editorial board of one of the better OA journals.

  • The idea behind a PhD is that it is a piece of research of approved quality that is worthy of the degree granted. The theses sit in the institution's library - which is the traditional definition of publication. Making degree granting institutions publish them to the net free make a lot of sense.
    • Making degree granting institutions publish them to the net free make a lot of sense.

      Some require that. In Germany it seems you literally have to publish it with an ISBN number and everything. Not sure if that's across the whole place or some institutions.

      In the UK students are free to publish their thesis online. For certain subjects there are online archives, such as arXiv and the BMVA thesis archive.

  • It should be released for free as in Libre.

  • Any research that was funded in part by our taxes should be freely available. Otherwise the researchers and their universities should stop taking our money and start footing the bill.

  • If the research is in any way being funded by tax payers' money, then it should be made freely available. Private entities can spend their money how they wish and do with their knowledge what they wish, but the same should not be allowed if there's tax money directly involved.

  • Most meds developed by research institutes are funded with public research dollars. However, once a medicine becomes effective at treating a disease, more extensive testing is done to validate it and the side effects on a broader population. This is where pharms enter the picture and get in make money. They buy the work from the research institute and write patents on the chemical process to obtain exclusivity. If you want to do research, best stick with problems faced by poor people without resources t
  • If the research is free, the first functional AI will be able to find it, read it, and become smarter.

    Do you want skynet? Because that's how you get skynet.

  • So the real value comes from publishing a significant paper -- i.e. one that is frequently cited, or is even so significant that it ISN'T cited (people doing CRISPR presumably don't bother to cite the original papers any more). Since so many papers are published, publishing in a prestigious journal increases the chance you'll be read and cited.

    Those journals (and lesser journals, and bottom-feeding paper-spammers as well) make money by controlling access -- the more prestigious the more money (presumably)

  • If the school received any public funding, then yes, they should.
  • I write a lot about the history of tech, old computers and radars and such. Most of that is recorded in older journals, like the IEEE and ACM. They continue to charge $30 or more per copy for papers from the 1950s.

    For instance, J. Presper Eckert wrote a paper on early storage mechanisms in the early 1950s. About half of them were never used in production, and the other half stopped being used in the 1970s at the latest. That paper has exactly zero commercial value, yet they still charge $30 for it.

    Wankers.

  • Who exactly made the decision that the going rate for a single scientific journal article was $30-35? That seems to be way too high. And who actually pays for that? Does anybody? Is there any data on how many of these exorbitant, highway robbery fees are actually paid? I seem to recall back in the 80s and 90s when doing research papers in the library, before things were online, students would keep a library copy card handy with maybe $25 or $50 on it to cover copying of journal articles needed for research.
  • A friend of mine was doing a PhD thesis. Paywalled content was simply ignored, as if it didn't exist. Sad but true.
    Thankfully most authors offered alternative ways of getting articles.

He's dead, Jim.

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