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Author Topic: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals  (Read 6950 times)

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Borek

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fledarmus

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2012, 01:34:51 PM »

The problem is that the people who do the research and the people who publish the research are not the same people. The people who do the research may be funded by the government, and thus the general public, but the people who publish it are not; they are funded either by the dues of their organizations, by subscriptions, or by advertising. Or in a few cases by having the authors pay for the publication. Only in the last case would it be fair to have the publishers provide the paper for free, because they could pay for publication out of the same grant that covered the research, and thus the government would be paying for both the prosecution of the research and the publication of the research.

You cannot pay the producer for production, then require a third party distributor to distribute the product to anybody who requests it for free, regardless of whether the product is tomatoes, gasoline, or research results.
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Borek

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2012, 09:37:08 PM »

they are funded either by the dues of their organizations, by subscriptions, or by advertising

Subscriptions are in a large part already founded by the grant money. And with the subscriptions prices being very high many universities already have problems and they cancel subscriptions.

Besides, scientific publishers are making insane money (as opposed to any other publisher). Compare The Economist, http://www.economist.com/node/18744177/:

Academic journals generally get their articles for nothing and may pay little to editors and peer reviewers. They sell to the very universities that provide that cheap labour. As other media falter, academic publishers have soared. Elsevier, the biggest publisher of journals with almost 2,000 titles, cruised through the recession. Last year it made £724m ($1.1 billion) on revenues of £2 billion—an operating-profit margin of 36%.

For me this bill is an apparent effect of lobbying by publishers - they want to keep the cake. Fact that they are blocking access to published results doesn't matter. This is especially sad when publisher is something like ACS - organization that should promote and help research, not make money.
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fledarmus

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2012, 02:17:27 AM »

they are funded either by the dues of their organizations, by subscriptions, or by advertising

Subscriptions are in a large part already founded by the grant money.

Confused by this statement - subscriptions to what? And how are they funded by grant money?
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Borek

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012, 03:26:01 AM »

they are funded either by the dues of their organizations, by subscriptions, or by advertising

Subscriptions are in a large part already founded by the grant money.

Confused by this statement - subscriptions to what? And how are they funded by grant money?

To get access to literature you need a subscription (or you have to pay separately for every paper). And most researchers pay for these subscriptions with the grant money. Sure, they don't do it individually, it is a subscription that is granted to the university library (but its budget comes from the grants and school budget in general). These things are insanely expensive. I happen to read discussions by librarians - many smaller universities and colleges can't afford to paid for the subscriptions (which often come in the form of "all or nothing"), and have to cancel them, which in turn means people at these smaller institutions have problems doing research. This is getting more and more serious problem.
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fledarmus

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2012, 03:42:46 AM »

I agree with you that it is a serious issue and that we need to do something about it, but deciding that something is too expensive and therefore should be provided free by whoever is currently making money on it is not the way to go.

Yes, researchers are using their grant money to buy access to the tools they need to do their research. That doesn't mean that those tools therefore belong to the federal government and should be freely available to anybody else that wants one. Then we could require any contractor that sells a hammer to the government to provide free hammers to anybody else that asks for one.

We are falling into a dangerous pattern in many aspects of our society now, where if you can prove that you "need" something, whoever owns it shouldn't be allowed to make any money off of it. "How much money would you spend for a new drug that could save your life?" The answer now is becoming "Absolutely none. If it can save my life, whoever makes it should give it to me for free." This is not a sustainable system.
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Borek

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2012, 04:47:43 AM »

The problem is, instead of letting the market decide, publishers are lobbying to get the law defend their position. That's even more slippery slope.

Note that what they want to do it to block what works now - if I remember correctly, NIH supported research papers are now for a year distributed by publishers, only later they are available for free from the NIH site. Publishers want these papers for ever.
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Borek

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2012, 04:09:29 AM »

Another related case - this time opinion of the US Supreme Court:

http://chronicle.com/article/A-GoodBad-Week-for-Free/130422/

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In Golan v. Holder, a group of conductors, educators, film distributors, and others challenged the constitutionality of Congress's decision in 1994 to remove millions of books, films, songs, and other creative works, mostly foreign, from the public domain and "restore" their copyrights.

Quote
In a 6-2 opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (with Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissenting), the court found that "[n]either the Copyright and Patent Clause nor the First Amendment ... makes the public domain, in any and all cases, a territory that works may never exit."

Another win for the copyright-for-as-long-as-possible side.
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Borek

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2012, 12:10:17 PM »

From CHMINF-L:

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For an opportunity to weigh in on the Research Works Act (RWA)HR 3699, which threatens to reverse progress made in ensuring open access to publicly (NIH) funded research, please consider signing the "White House We the People" petition at http://wh.gov/K25 (slow loading).  You will need to create an account on whitehouse.gov before signing.   

This "White House We the People" petition needs 25,000 signatures by February 22 for the White House to take action, so it is another mechanism, other than writing to your congressional representative, to weigh in with opposition to HR 3699. Please consider signing, passing along to others.
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Fluorine

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2012, 06:36:28 PM »

Thank you Borek, I shared and signed that link.
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Borek

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2012, 04:52:34 AM »

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/01/testify-the-open-science-movement-catches-fire/all/1

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For years, the open science movement has sought to light a fire about the “closed” journal-publication system. In the last few weeks their efforts seemed to have ignited a broader flame, driven mainly, it seems, by the revelation that one of the most resented publishers, Elsevier, was backing the Research Works Act

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scientists are pledging by the hundreds to not cooperate with Elsevier in any way — refusing to publish in its journals, referee its papers, or do the editorial work that researchers have been supplying to journals without charge for decades

Read also two series of comments below the text.
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Jasim

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2012, 07:24:30 AM »

The entire publication industry is going through some radical changes brought about by the internet. What I would love to see is individual research groups take control of the situation by organizing free publishing of articles in an online forum. The researchers don't make money by getting their results published, they just want their results out there to be acknowledged and shared. We the people have the potential to take control and should do so.
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Enthalpy

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2012, 04:43:05 PM »

Science journals are presently the biggest obstacle to knowledge diffusion, a real anachronism in the Internet era.

But ArXiv exists and is a solution. Important labs like Cern publish there. Why do some teams still prefer paid journals?
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408

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2012, 11:18:47 PM »

Why do some teams still prefer paid journals?

Impact factor
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Jasim

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Re: Bill limiting free access to scientific journals
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2012, 02:58:51 AM »

Oh-Kay. So why doesn't ArXiv have stuff on chemistry? :(

I'm not sure why I care so much when I have access to a ton of databases, but I was unemployed a few months back and didn't, and it sucked. It really made me realize just how often I utilized journal databases to shut people up  ;D ...err give them evidence-based information.


Oh what would the world be like if everyone had such access?

Probably the same since few people would take the initiative to learn if what they are about to post all over their twitter feeds and Facebook pages were true or based purely on evidence from the ether.  :(

Sorry, I'm done ranting now.
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