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MIT To Make All Faculty Publications Open Access

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the take-that-conyers dept.

Education 164

Death Metal writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "If there were any doubt that open access publishing was setting off a bit of a power struggle, a decision made last week by the MIT faculty should put it to rest. Although most commercial academic publishers require that the authors of the works they publish sign all copyrights over to the journal, Congress recently mandated that all researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health retain the right to freely distribute their works one year after publication (several foundations have similar requirements). Since then, some publishers started fighting the trend, and a few members of Congress are reconsidering the mandate. Now, in a move that will undoubtedly redraw the battle lines, the faculty of MIT have unanimously voted to make any publications they produce open access."

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164 comments

Hats of for MIT (5, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343695)

now that's the kind of university that one would want his/her children to go to.

Re:Hats of for MIT (4, Funny)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343809)

Unless the are copyright capitalist barbarians.

Re:Hats of for MIT (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344921)

Unless the are copyright capitalist barbarians.

In which case they go to Harvard.

Re:Turban's of for MIT (1)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343823)

Madras Instatute of Technology for the winning!

Re:Hats of for MIT (1)

Froze (398171) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343903)

Mod: Offtopic

WTF?

Giving Kudo's to the institution that stands behind the open method of its publications is not in anyway offtopic. Granted it is a gratuitous FP, however it is still relevant and meaningful.

Re:Hats of for MIT (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343913)

Yes, because I would have been devastated to see my kids attend MIT before this.

Re:Hats of for MIT (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27343963)

this is amazing, who would have thought that... *gasp* one might want so called "true" knowledge... shared?

thank goodness for this, every journal should be free

Re:Hats of for MIT (-1, Offtopic)

solafide (845228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344087)

So, slightly offtopic: I've recently been accepted to both Stanford and MIT. I intend to go into computer science, not computer programming, with a focus on biology*. They both cost the same $200k, have approximately equal appeal to me, &c. Do ya'll have any anecdotes on which is better? (Alternatively, I could go to Rice for a total of $24k - they're offering me a rather indecent scholarship. Is the quality of Rice education plus 180k saved better than MIT or Stanford?)

*I'm ranked something like 14th on the USA Computing Olympiad, the algorithms competition for high schoolers, but I'm more like 400th on USA Math olympiad. I could major in math; I just happen not to enjoy the math major unwashed stereotype.

Many thanks for your replies and non-offtopic-moderations.

Re:Hats of for MIT (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344197)

The girls are much hotter at Stanford. Of course, given that you're a math geek, arrogant, and also a Slashdotter, that's unlikely to be a factor for you anyway.

Geek girls IMHO are some of the hottest. (4, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345261)

They may not spend as much time with makeup and outfits as the uberbimbos. But IMHO their bodies are often quite as functional. Even more so: Brains have a lot to do with that.

Tracing the individual variations on peripheral neural pathways and working out their operation is even more fun (for both) when the tracee knows and appreciates what is going on and can give additional feedback beyond the basic flushes, indrawn breath, postures, erections, secretions, etc. And there's such synergy when the partner can reciprocate.

Being able to have an intelligent conversation can be far better afterplay than smoking cigarettes. (Though sometimes it DOES distract.)

Then there's the love for gadgets, tool-making, and tool use. (For instance: It's not a coincidence that some of the largest and most active consensual BDSM communities formed in Silicon Valley and other tech centers and organized over the net and email, or that some of the big names in tech are major participants. Did you really think all that pron on the intertubes was just frustrated geeks who COULDN'T get any? B-) But even if such tastes are more common with geek girls it's far from a universal attraction. So use care bringing it up.)

But one of the hottest things about geek girls is that they can appreciate a geek's mind and tend to be attracted - indeed, turned on - by a good one. If said male geek can reciprocate, treating her as a valued team member rather than someone to play smarter-than-you-nyah mind games on, it's the foundation of a solid long-term relationship.

Re:Hats of for MIT (3, Insightful)

zeldor (180716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344325)

for computer science I would say yes rice is a better option.
do undergrad there, save the money, then go on to master and postdoc
at either stanford or MIT.

Re:Hats of for MIT (5, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344365)

As opposed to the comp sci major unwashed stereotype? :-)

My experience has been that there are different tiers. Schools within a given tier are going to have comparable program quality (but one's style might match you better). Generally speaking, going to any school within the top 50 or 100 for a field will result in a good education. Also, some schools are higher in their ranks because of their research. However, graduate students benefit from this far more than undergrad students do.

I will say this, though. Being in the real world with a lot less college debt is nice.

Re:Hats of for MIT (0)

Bozdune (68800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344571)

You apparently do not know that an MIT education is affordable by practically everyone, because of their extremely aggressive scholarship program. This casts doubt on your assertion that you were admitted.

Be that as it may, you'd be fine at any of the three institutions mentioned, although because of your bio inclination I'd say MIT has an edge.

Re:Hats of for MIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344739)

Dratted parental investments, many siblings -> no finaid. Besides, I didn't say affordable, I wondered if MIT/Stanford was better than Rice+180k. Thanks for your advice though :).

Re:Hats of for MIT (2, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344353)

I've said this many times before:

If you send your kids to MIT, have them study marketing.

MIT's engineering program might be quite good -- I have no reason to doubt this. However, the amount of PR buzz that the school generates is disproportional to the amount of research that they produce, especially compared to similar institutions. Their marketing people must be very good.

As an aside, I should also grumble here about my ethical issues with an institution of learning that charges $45,000/year, and intentionally limits the number of students it takes on, despite having a pool of applicants that (by their own admission) are perfectly qualified to attend.

Re:Hats of for MIT (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344981)

Might be? Have you ever worked with anyone from their program? They don't give out honorary degrees and simply passing their admissions process alone speaks quite a bit about a person's motivation. Based on the experience of my engineering career there are two schools which consistently graduate exceptional thinkers: MIT and Harvey Mudd.

Re:Hats of for MIT (2, Funny)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345099)

For a second there I could have sworn you said Harry Mudd and was going to ask what their rates for androids was.

Re:Hats of for MIT (0, Offtopic)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345053)

I should also grumble here about my ethical issues with an institution of learning that charges $45,000/year, and intentionally limits the number of students it takes on, despite having a pool of applicants that (by their own admission) are perfectly qualified to attend.

My car comfortably seats four, uncomfortably seats five, and has the potential to carry eight if I ignore the law.

Regardless, if I've got seven friends, three get a ride.

Re:Hats of for MIT (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345143)

As an aside, I should also grumble here about my ethical issues with an institution of learning that charges $45,000/year, and intentionally limits the number of students it takes on, despite having a pool of applicants that (by their own admission) are perfectly qualified to attend.

WTF? You're complaining that they don't have infinite capacity? There's a limit to how many professors and classrooms even a $45K tuition can buy, you know!

Re:Hats of for MIT (1)

Grapes4Buddha (32825) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345597)

Um, maybe MIT doesn't have the ability to actually handle more students than it admits? Maybe they feel that the quality of the education they provide would suffer if they admit more students? It doesn't seem like question of ethics at all.

Free to boot (4, Informative)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344525)

Yes, I said "free". For those interested in getting an education from MIT in any course/degree offered, go to MIT OpenCourseWare [mit.edu] for full free access to all material needed to learn whatever the school has to offer.

Certification and faculty attention, however, is kinda pricy.

Re:Hats of for MIT (0, Troll)

lawaetf1 (613291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345673)

Yes, I hear at MIT they teach the difference between "off" and "of"!

\\\runs and hides.. troll me, I deserve it.

Thank you! (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343697)

This should put to rest any concerns that closed access journals protect the interests of the authors.

Re:Thank you! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343815)

Hey, what about authors that have an interest in surrendering their copyright, paying page fees, being threatened if they dare post a copy of their own paper on their website, and doing peer review for free for for-profit journals?

What about them, huh? Are they not people too?

Re:Thank you! (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344199)

Well they probably won't end up at MIT - for one reason or another....

Re:Thank you! (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345113)

Hey, what about authors that have an interest in surrendering their copyright, paying page fees, being threatened if they dare post a copy of their own paper on their website, and doing peer review for free for for-profit journals?

I gladly do all those things for the kind of exposure that some journals offer your work. Like I said in my above post in more detail, without that exposure, no one is likely to read my work because no one is likely to know that it exists. In a perfect world where acquisition of information is not as costly as in this one, a free system would sort things out just fine. In this one, no one has enough time to read every paper thoroughly enough to decide if it's worth reading thoroughly.

PS: The journals let you post a link on your webpage to the full text (it expires after 500 clicks or something), I have no interest in my copyright (since I'm NIH, I have to publish it free in a year anyway) and I gladly do peer-review as part of my duty to help others get a good evaluation of the work.

What about academic freedom? (3, Interesting)

yali (209015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345823)

I'm a big fan of the move toward open access. But I worry about the precedent for academic freedom.

Think about it: a university is establishing rules and giving itself oversight over where faculty can publish. From the article: "Anybody who wants to publish with a journal that refuses to grant these rights will have to submit a written request for an exception to the MIT provost." Imagine 2 faculty members who want to publish papers in journals that do not cooperate with MIT's policy. One does popular research that the provost likes, the other does controversial research that the provost doesn't like. Why should the fate of these 2 faculty's research be left in the provost's hands?

Like I said, I agree with the goal, but I worry that this is a lousy way to reach it.

i dunno (2, Insightful)

leecho0 (1314111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346241)

If I were a publisher, I'd want the smartest minds in the world to publish in my journal.

I'm sure people would want to read what the geniuses at MIT are doing, and the publishers will have to choose between losing subscribers or making the requirements more lax.

MIT's one of the few schools in the world that can pull off something like this. Most people choose schools because of rankings, and rankings are mostly based on the number of publications, so schools are not very likely to risk lowering their ranking for an ideology. But MIT doesn't care. No one would pay any college ranking that doesn't end with MIT or Caltech.

Re:Thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346259)

"This should put to rest any concerns that closed access journals protect the interests of the authors."

Wait, what? Publishers actually have the audacity to claim that?

Call me crazy, but did they ever take a poll to find out whether the authors agreed with the publishers' claims?

I still remember the first time I submitted a paper, it was accepted, and I got the proofs back with the copyright transfer form to sign. My thoughts were roughly along the lines of "This sucks".

Great News! (1, Redundant)

Slumdog (1460213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343711)

Kudos to the MIT faculty for choosing the right road forward.

Finally (5, Insightful)

Vornzog (409419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343773)

This is a major blow to an industry with an outdated business model. Scientific publication is starting to move beyond the need for the middleman, and I am extremely glad to see it happen.

That said, the major publishers will scramble to try and patch this hole in the business model, and they will probably make the overall situation worse before it really starts to improve.

Oh well. Got to start that process at some point. Go MIT.

Re:Finally (3, Insightful)

magisterx (865326) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343989)

While I fully agree that this is a major step forward, I would hesitate before saying this will or should remove the middle man. Remember the journals currently organize much of the peer review and handle vetting and editing functions. Their business model should and must change, but that does not mean they are obsolete just yet.

Re:Finally (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344749)

Remember the journals currently organize much of the peer review and handle vetting and editing functions.

There are better solutions [google.com] for those services too.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346171)

That's not obviously a better solution. If you look closely, you will see that they are merely exchanging one set of problems (copyright) for another set (indexing, archiving, finding peer reviewers, and so on).

The existing system may suck in a lot of ways, but what it has going for it is that it works, and we are all familiar with its flaws. Blowing it up and going with some ill-defined system would invite all kinds of unforeseen and unintended consequences.

Besides, I'm not convinced this is a real problem. How many people in history have been totally unable to access a particular scientific paper? I'm thinking not many.

Re:Finally (5, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344027)

This is a major blow to an industry with an outdated business model. Scientific publication is starting to move beyond the need for the middleman, and I am extremely glad to see it happen.

That said, the major publishers will scramble to try and patch this hole in the business model, and they will probably make the overall situation worse before it really starts to improve.

Oh well. Got to start that process at some point. Go MIT.

Nothing personal to you, sir or madame. I see "outdated business model" time and time again on Slashdot as an euphemism for basically saying "not offering something for free".

First of all, business models do not become outdated. They may become worthless because someone has started doing business another way that eliminates one from making money from their current way of doing business. For example, in the beginning of the Internets, folks were charging for content. Then, someone had the brilliant idea that they don't have to charge and they'll have advertising. Thereby making most sites who charged the consumer for the content "outdated" and thereby making everyone else lose money. Then again, tell that to these guys [wsj.com]

Now consider this, many folks are becoming independent contractors and doing crafts and whatnot at home to make a living - just like the pre-19th century factory system. Outdated indeed.

There's no such thing as an outdated business model. MIT is financing these publications by other means, that's all. Also, exactly how much does it really cost to publish this stuff online? The authors aren't paid. What are the costs associated? I don't think this is such a sacrifice for MIT or any other institution that does this.

Re:Finally (4, Insightful)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344725)

I do not agree in this case. The model is clearly outdated (in the sens not good for today). It had meaning before when there was no Internet. Accessing articles was expensive because you had to print journal issues.

Today, we no longer use paper version but mainly electronic one. So the only thing the publisher provides is an electronic access to publications. But, universities and laboratories can do that them self.

So why are we still using "private" journals? The only reasonable answer is : reputation. A journal such as Nature or Transaction on computers are well known. It is know that the editorial board only select top quality papers. But, one should recall that the editorial board IS NOT the journal itself but professors and researchers spread all over the world which do the job for free.

Why not switch to per university (but peer reviewed) publication without the editors ?

We could take the editorial board of a good journal and make an independent journal. The problem is research evaluation. It is currently done through crappy index such as the impact factor. A new publication method will badly perform according to this index and thus research will be badly evaluated.

You need to be a prestigious university to say : "we do not want this model anymore". And that is what the MIT is doing which is great.

PS: The publishers currently propose some minor correction to fit into a given format or to check for grammatical errors. This could be done by universities too. (or research lab, or independant foundation...)

The Key (1)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344947)

So why are we still using "private" journals? The only reasonable answer is : reputation.

Exactly. Public discourse. No cost; internet discourse.

Which leads me to my round-about-point, satirical point: Big Fucking Deal; MIT is now publishing scientific papers on the internet.

Re:Finally (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344905)

Also, exactly how much does it really cost to publish this stuff online? The authors aren't paid. What are the costs associated?

More than you might think. While the costs of storage and bandwidth can be modest if you already have a significant IT infrastructure to co-opt a portion of... You still need to pay someone to design and operate the site. An institution the size of MIT will be producing a great deal of material, and that means you'll need a paid professional running the site. It's not an amateur hour job.
 
Then there are the costs that most people who invoke 'publishing online' rarely realize even exist.*
 
Working backwards from content ready to deliver to the webmaster - you have editorial costs, someone has to ensure the papers are ready for publication. Again, with the size and prestige of MIT that means paid professionals to ensure and maintain quality results and timely completion. This isn't somebodies blog or live journal where it's no biggie if that essay you promised your readers in the spring would be ready by the 4th of July - but doesn't actually appear until Labor Day, and they forgive minor spelling, grammatical, and design errors and flaws.
 
Even before it gets to that stage - you need somebody to organize peer reviews. And again, with an institution the size of MIT that will be a non trivial task and likely one or more full time professional positions.
 
Etc... etc... Content doesn't magically appear on the website, complete and finished. There's quite a bit of work and more than a few people 'behind the scenes'.
 
Now being MIT, they can probably pawn some of this off onto undergrads, reducing the cost. Some of it will be work added to already existing positions, and thus while the cost may end up being obscured they are still there.

* My impression that a majority of netizens spend the majority of their time where the background work is performed by volunteers, and the content is provided, prepared, and maintained by users and volunteers. They really have no idea just how fast the costs mount when you actually have to pay people to do the work. Just as an example - for a lark, while I was editing Wikipedia actively, I kept track of the time I spent editing in one month... And found I'd spent nearly 35 hours over the course of that month editing or doing research for the articles I was editing. At current local minimum wage ($8.55), Wikipedia would owe me (one very low volume casual editor) $300 - and that's just the direct costs and does not account for overhead or the costs of the related research materials!

Re:Finally (2, Insightful)

Vornzog (409419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344945)

I see "outdated business model" time and time again on Slashdot as an euphemism for basically saying "not offering something for free".

I do not speak for the Slashdot gestalt. When I write 'outdated business model', I mean 'founded on pre-internet artificial scarcity'. That doesn't mean free, it just means *both* the supply and demand curves shift quite a bit, and the places in the system where there are profitable opportunities shift. This applies to the MPAA, the RIAA, the scientific publishing industry, and a whole bunch more.

Scientific publishing, in particular, makes money from both the author and the reader. They got greedy, claiming that they are the only way to distribute to the end reader, and that they are also the only way to set up a peer review. Both assumptions are wrong, and are now easy to get around, thanks to the internet.

First of all, business models do not become outdated. They may become worthless because someone has started doing business another way that eliminates one from making money from their current way of doing business.

If a business model was profitable, but now it is not due to advances in technology, it is outdated. Its time has passed. It is an ex-business model. It is pining for the fjords. It has gone to the great golden spike in the sky where all technologically inflexible business models must eventually go.

Now consider this, many folks are becoming independent contractors and doing crafts and whatnot at home to make a living - just like the pre-19th century factory system. Outdated indeed.

You picked a perfect example to illustrate my point. Pre-19th century, if you wanted a sweater, someone had to knit it. 21st century, if you want a handmade sweater, someone has to knit it. But the supply of handmade sweaters, which take a long time to knit, is far outstripped by the demand for sweaters.

There are those of us who, recognizing the lost opportunity cost of spending hundreds of dollars for a handmade sweater, realize that we can get a machine-made sweater for a fraction of the cost. We substitute a similar product.

The price of handmade sweaters is a supply side problem. The price of machine-made sweaters is a demand-side problem. The business models for these things are radically different due to the introduction of technology into the process. Handmade clothes are an art form, and are priced appropriately. Machine made clothes are a commodity and enjoy shatteringly larger profitability due to economies of scale.

Building a business model centered around high demand for high priced sweaters is just silly. It *would* have been a viable business model prior to the industrial revolution and the amazing rise of the textile industry, but it won't work now. It is outdated. That doesn't mean it isn't a business plan - it's just a silly one that won't work any more.

Scientific publishing will change. The publishers will find a way to adapt their business model and continue to publish, or will flail about with an outdated business model and they will perish. As in science, so it goes in scientific publishing: Publish or Perish.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345125)

First of all, business models do not become outdated. They may become worthless

When a successful business model becomes worthless, it's outdated. It fits perfectly with the dictionary definition.

Re:Finally (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344281)

This is a major blow to an industry with an outdated business model. Scientific publication is starting to move beyond the need for the middleman, and I am extremely glad to see it happen.

That said, the major publishers will scramble to try and patch this hole in the business model, and they will probably make the overall situation worse before it really starts to improve.

Exactly! This draws so many similarities to the MPAA/RIAA that it's not even funny. The internet has made it significantly less necessary for the profitable middle man. It can't solve every problem - there's still the matter of peer review for example. And yes, there is some need for distribution, but its profitability is not nearly so great as it was before.

The purpose of technology is to resolve problems and lower costs. What holds it back is industry - our financial systems become so entrenched in old technology that our economy becomes tied and holds it back from the new one. Now it's time for us to move on from that and hopefully institutes like MIT will make it happen.

Darned Liberals (5, Funny)

OldFish (1229566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343801)

They're setting America on a path to certain destruction. Why how's a good, god-fearing businessman gonna make a buck if he can't do it by reselling publicly funded publications???

I think the businessmen have tried to close public access to NOAA data too.

Re:Darned Liberals (2, Funny)

Yamamato (1513927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343853)

Why was this modded troll? Did someone miss that whooshing sound in their ears?

Re:Darned Liberals (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344617)

I think that someone might be a "good, god-fearing businessman" who sees nothing wrong with that mode of making a buck...

Re:Darned Liberals (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343961)

Yes, they did. Accuweather had their pet senator Santorum(yes, he's good for more than bizarre comments about homosexuals) sponsor S.768 [loc.gov] . This would have forbidden the NOAA from providing publicly funded data to the public.

Unanimous? (3, Insightful)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343845)

As much as I congratulate MIT on this, I'd be interested to see the official vote tally. MIT's faculty is rather largeish, and the article itself says that faculty are caught in the middle between the need for funding and the need for exposure. There's no way in hell that vote was unanimous. Sounds more like the motion passed by a simple majority, someone introduced one of those silly, "Motion to declare the outcome of this vote unanimous," motions, which was then passed by the same people. That's just speculation, but seriously...not one single dissenter on the entire faculty? No way.

Re:Unanimous? (1)

krlynch (158571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344189)

It likely WAS a unanimous vote, at a meeting of the university faculty. Attendance at those things tends to be shockingly low, however, so only those with skin in the particular game on the agenda tend to show up. It's nearly impossible to tell, as the electronic copies of the minutes are restricted to mit.edu users only.

Re:Unanimous? (2, Interesting)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344653)

the article itself says that faculty are caught in the middle between the need for funding and the need for exposure

The article says nothing of the sort. It says the line is being drawn between publishers and funding groups. Funding groups want open access precisely because it brings the papers more exposure, without the barrier of a paid journal subscription.

The publishers are the only ones on the other side. Basically, their business model made sense before the internet, because the most efficient way to read papers was to have a subscription to a journal and read the physical copy. Today, the most efficient method is to just download the thing, and distribution costs are minimum. Peer review can still go on, since most editors for closed journals are volunteer professors (I remember my advisor offloading papers for me to review. He would still look over everything, but it saved him time, and got me experience).

Also, unlike **AA members, authors of scientific papers don't get paid for each individual copy people buy, so all they really want is for their paper to be read by a large number of people, which increases their chances of being cited, of their work getting exposure, and of getting increased funding.

Really...the only people who want closed journals are the owners of the closed journals.

Re:Unanimous? (1)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345887)

The article says something exactly of the sort:

After all, faculty are completely reliant on both parties involved: the funding agencies pay for their work, and publishers ensure that it finds an audience. Obviously, this puts the faculty in no position to negotiate.

That's what I was referring to. What you're saying is valid, but really has nothing to do with what I said. The point is, right now published journals are the most reliable way to get exposure. People trust peer review. The fact the subscription-based peer review system could operate under open access policies doesn't change the fact that right now, for the most part, it doesn't. This isn't about what system would theoretically be best for researchers. It's about the way things currently work, and how that means researchers really don't want to go pissing off either the people giving them money or the people who currently print their results. That, and how, given the dilemma, I don't believe there's any way everyone could have possibly agreed, despite how nice the message sent by "unanimously agreed" sounds.

USAID does something like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27343863)

When USAID funds technical publications produced by international nonprofits -- stuff like this [acquireproject.org] -- they require that the publications be made free to the world with the possible exception of production and shipping costs. Taxpayer money paid for it; all taxpayers should be able to benefit. (although that same nonprofit is trying to tell us how to spend our money [3for1.org] ....)

De facto standard already? (2, Insightful)

vsage3 (718267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343869)

Many of the professors I know of host copies of their publications on their lab websites for all to view. Perhaps this decision by MIT is the first of its type officially, but it's hardly new.

medical is worst culprit (4, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344215)

Computer and engineering journals are fairly receptive to open publication. However, the medical journal industry is viciously protective. Pre-publication of articles threatens rejection and potential loss of priority rights. A lot of this is due to biotech which seeks to keep new technology hidden as long as possible. A number of people with fatal illness have complained to congressmen about the difficulty of accessing research on their diseases.

Computer Science (3, Informative)

zerojoker (812874) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343897)

My notion of Computer Science is, that you will always find published papers on the homepages of the relevant authors. Regardless, of what the publishers say. If the publishers make you require sign away your copyright you will almost always find the relevant paper either in some "draft version" or some "technical report", slightly reformulated but essentially the same.

I always thought that this is the standard also in other disciplines. What is the publication standard in other disciplines?

Re:Computer Science (3, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344211)

Standard? No. And as there's no standard way for how a web page should be organised, there's no standard way to find such articles, and no guarantee that they won't disappear tomorrow. Would you take the chance to cite a paper that's not even properly published?

MIT's decision will hopefully mean that you'll find the electronic version through the library's database, with persistent links that don't disappear when a professor moves to a different university.

Re:Computer Science (2, Informative)

SoVeryTired (967875) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344243)

It's the same in Mathematics. You'll usually find a selection of "preprints" of a lecturer's most recent work, along with copies of his or her best-known papers.

Typically, in order to lay claim to anything they're working on, an academic will upload a paper to ArXiv.org as soon as they possibly can. ArXiv is a site which allows access to preprints in maths, computer science, physics, dynamical systems etc...

It isn't peer-reviewed though, so it's still necessary to publish in a journal.

Re:Computer Science (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344337)

Many professors like to post their works on their webpage so that people that need to know their interests (prospective collaborators, grant issuers, etc.) are familiar with their work. Not only that, it allows people to evaluate it so they can make sure that they're good, ethical workers, all goody stuff like that.

Re:Computer Science (1)

skastrik (971221) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344355)

My notion of Computer Science is, that if it's published by ACM it is more or less impossible to find it using Google (apart from the ACM abstract of course).
They seem to be very good at whatever they do.

econ (2, Informative)

Main Gauche (881147) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344397)

This is the same in many other disciplines. In economics, for example, this kind of story is non-news.

For the past 10+ years, even most "old fashioned" journals allow you to post your paper, as long as you post some blurb acknowledging that you passed copyright to the publisher. That arrangement worked out just fine. As an academic, who cares who has the copyright; just give me the paper!

Even for journals that did not offer this, authors would blatantly post their paper anyway. Yet I never once heard of a publisher going to an economist and asking them to alter their personal web page. (Yeah, yeah, insert "nobody reads the paper anyway" joke here.)

More recently, the field of economics has seen open-access e-journals popping up everywhere. The writing is on the wall, as to the future of access.

Finally, our school is in negotiations to make all publications open-access. This isn't just some faculty declaration; we're working on actually doing it. I imagine other schools are doing the same. So like I said, this is non-news to an insider.

Re:Computer Science (2, Informative)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344399)

On every paper I've been associated with (admittedly not many since I'm relatively new to this "science" malarky), the copyright signing over was related to a particular instance of the paper - that is, you signed away copyright not for the work as a whole, but the particular formatting and attributions which appear in the journal.

Simply processing it in a different stylefile and removing any mention of the journal it's actually published in is sufficient to address this concern, meaning a "preprint" style formatting is perfectly acceptable to publish on your own page, or somewhere like arxiv.org (a point some of them explicitly acknowledge - and even seem to encourage somewhat).

If this is the status quo elsewhere, this isn't really as dramatic a step as MIT would like to make it out to be.

Re:Computer Science (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344827)

Most the papers written by french CS researcher can be accessed online in the HAL-INRIA [inria.fr] database. ArXiv is also widely used in physics.

Too f&*(ing right ! (4, Insightful)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343905)

It's about time that publicly funded research make it back into the public domain. I'm sick and tired of my tax money going to enriching institutions of higher learning, and big Pharma (and other corporations) and seeing nothing in return but more generally useless, largely unnecessary, and unjustifiably expensive drugs, not to mention huge salaries.

Good arguments against open access? (2, Funny)

Tragek (772040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343909)

I have a really hard time coming up with good arguments against open access publishing. Do they exist? Or are all arguments against flat out support of the publishers' business model?

Re:Good arguments against open access? (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344039)

Running journals costs a lot of money and a lot of peoples time. You need editors to go over papers and to submit them to referees. Then you need editors to harass referees who aren't reviewing things in a timely fashion. Then you need editors to work with authors to make sure that everything in the paper is presented well. This is a lot of time and aggravation. If you aren't paying people to do this (as you get with a journal that is subscription) you either need to a) have a pay for review cost which creates a serious barrier for authors who are amateurs or are from schools with less funding or b) get volunteers to do thankless, time-consuming work, which is hard to do (working as an editor isn't something that helps get tenure that much). So yes, there are definite advantages to the closed source model.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344183)

I'd buy point (a) if there wasn't a practice of journals charging authors for the ability to publish (which they pay in order to continue to have a career). I'd agree with point (b) if the peer reviewers were paid. There may be advantages to the closed source model, but neither of those are it.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344381)

Who told you that editors of scientific journals are paid for their work? At least in my area (Computer Science), all Editors from renowned journals (from ACM, IEEE, etc.) do their job just for prestige. Also, as a reviewer, nobody pays me for doing that work. Yet publishers don't allow us to put our papers in our webpages, and even they charge us for publishing the articles! Kudos to MIT, enough said.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344419)

...either need to a) have a pay for review cost which creates a serious barrier for authors who are amateurs or are from schools with less funding

It doesn't necessarily have to be pay to review - it can be pay to publish.

With respect to pay-to-publish, my impression was that it was, at most, a few thousand dollars per paper. Unless you're getting ten papers a year published, it's not that much in the grand scheme of things (e.g. you're probably already taken a pay cut of tens of thousands of dollars just to be a post-doc). If you are getting ten papers a year published then you can probably afford the costs.

b) get volunteers to do thankless, time-consuming work, which is hard to do (working as an editor isn't something that helps get tenure that much).

I'm not actually sure that's true. If I had the option to hire the editor of, say, Nature to be my colleague I would sure be tempted - maybe when he was my colleague I could take him aside and see if he could get some favorable treatment for a paper I hoped to get published in Nature. But anyway, even if it is true that being an editor doesn't affect tenure, that may be more a problem with the tenure process rather than the scientific publishing model.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (2, Interesting)

lfp98 (740073) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344695)

A typical NIH grant is $200,000 per year and if you expect to get your grant renewed, you better be publishing 3 papera a year. Open access fees are now ~$3000 per paper even at nonprofit journals (and they still claim to be losing money on it), so that's $9,000 a year, about 5% of your grant, just to publish your results.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344579)

I don't know what field you're in, but in every CS and EE journal that I'm familiar with, editors and reviews are all volunteer jobs, with faculty (and sometimes grad students) doing all of the work for free. The for-profit journals basically do nothing but deal with printing costs, which IMHO is of ever-decreasing importance. If you think that an entirely open journal structure can't produce quality research, look again. The Journal of Machine Learning research (and there are many other journals doing the same thing) is now totally free and arguably the most prestigious ML/AI journal.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344683)

As one of the harassed reviewers who does this because it counts towards promotion and tenure (and not because I get paid), I won't see a difference in the process. These journals would be no-where without such volunteerism anyhow. They don't have the in-house expertise to review articles. Likewise, when one of my colleagues was the chief editor of one of Elsevier's journals (a position that generally changes from year to year), he maintained his full time job, and to my knowledge was not paid.

I see the journals as being too expensive for what they offer considering that most of us would try to publish our work with or without them. I will get easier access to publications under the open-access model and it will save my institution money that could be used locally.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (2, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344737)

While all of that is technically true, I was under the impression that in almost no circumstances are academic journal editors or reviewers paid for their work. Rather, to sit on the editorial board of a prestigious journal is considered its own reward.

From what I have heard, even the publishers don't present it that way. Publishers (Blackwell Synergy, Wiley, ScienceDirect, etc.) aren't editors. Editors are academics. The publishers argue that journal costs pay for the actual cost of distribution, as well as the cost of organizing all the editors, reviewers, etc.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345557)

have a pay for review cost which creates a serious barrier for authors who are amateurs or are from schools with less funding

Why? The ones who would pay would be those who benefit: the subscribers who now don't have to do the labor of the editors and reviewers. What you'd have then is a research evaluation and review service, which is exactly what you describe. Why would the submitters pay at all?

Editors, Authors, Referees (3, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346147)

Have you submitted an article to a peer-reviewed scientific journal? Have you been a referee for such an article? I have been in both roles, and more than once. Your view of an editor's work is not consistent with my experiences.

As a referee, I was never harassed by an editor. At first, they simply ask if you're willing to referee a paper, and ask you to suggest a different referee if you are unwilling to be referee yourself. If you accept, you're expected to give a reasoned assessment of the article within a few weeks. They typically use several referees, so if there's a laggard, it does not matter. Most referees are conscientious and timely (I and my colleagues are).

As an author, you are expected to follow the guidelines which the journal publishes. Most of them provide LaTeX or Word templates, and strict typesetting guidelines on figures, headings, citations, captions, etc. If you don't follow their guidelines, your article will be rejected by a secretary who will politely provide the formatting guidelines. It won't even reach the editor and certainly won't go out for peer review.

Oh, I also know editors of a few journals personally (including two journals I have published in, but I met the editors long afterwards at conferences). None of them ever mentioned any need for harassment of authors or referees. They did need to harass their own employees (fill the advertising space, dammit!) and subcontractors (this is printed on SC paper, I said to use coated stock!). That's where the time is spent.

Re:Good arguments against open access? (2, Interesting)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344689)

Publishing is expensive. Peer review is expensive. If you want to have high quality widely distributed science you need both. However, as a scientist myself I don't think this on it's own is a good argument against open access.

Bottom line is we need a new way to do publish science, and such a system is evolving. There are a number of journals that are online only, or release copies of work for free (for example JHEP). The current system is only really viable for the big name journals (and many of these are frankly sacrificing the quality of the work they accept to move more copies). This new way probably wont look that different from the old way, but will probably be a similar model to the one JHEP uses now.

Of course things are easier sciences like physics or maths than they are in biology which is why things move faster. For a start, in biology (especially biotech) there is a real push to keep things that might be profitable secret as long as possible. In addition scripts in biological sciences are often provided with no mark up conveying the authors intent. It is much easier to adjust for publication a latex file already marked up for you than it is to deal with a word file (which is why many journals in physics basically insist you hand over a tex file). This and other factors adds to the expense, which makes a more closed process more desirable.

Bottom line is the scientific publishing industry is going to have to change. The scientists all want it to change. They want it to be cheaper to access because they want people to read their work (and cite it!). They want it online because paper copies are a pain in the backside and harder to obtain. And they are by and large both supplier and customer. If journals both big and small don't start moving towards a lower cost, more open system then the internet and new technologies will allow someone else to.

its a policy, not a mandate (3, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344031)

The original article [mit.edu] I read said they would encourage MIT faculty and students to put their articles on a MIT-supplied website and back authors to obtain copyright permission. However, they weren't going to abrogate copyright contracts of existing articles and put the stuff out there without permission of the copyright holder. As more and more major institutions get on board this will back the expensive, commercial journals into a corner.

A possible compromise with the journals might be a 6 to 12 month delay before it goes on the MIT site.

Re:its a policy, not a mandate (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344377)

Here's [bitsbook.com] the link FTA which states the full policy.

Each Faculty member grants to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology nonexclusive permission to make available his or her scholarly articles

The Provost or Provostâ(TM)s designate will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written notification by the author, who informs MIT of the reason.

Sounds pretty strict to me. The only way around this is a formal waiver from the Provost's office. Doesn't get much worse than that.

MIT initiative (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344071)

MIT has an excellent track record for these sorts of initiatives, going all the way back to the MIT Press, and more recently its open courseware. This does not take into account the numerous events involving individual faculty who have initiated a project or taken a principled stand of one kind or another along the same lines in an atmosphere of support within the MIT culture.

As I see the situation, these initiatives are partly driven by a deep commitment to the ideals of academic freedom, but they are noteworthy in being pragmatic exercises as well. That's the test of merit where ideals are concerned, to see what happens when you implement them in real life. It's an engineering mindset, and my God, it works remarkably well.

irony of growing "closed stack" research libraries (3, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344135)

I am currently not affiliated with an university and have noticed increased difficulty in reading research journals at nearby libraries. The main culprit is online storage. Almost all the research libraries allow physical public patron access. But I can only read the online journals if I purchase a university computer account. I estimate over the past five years from the shrinkage of the magazine racks, half of the library journal subscriptions are only online now.

Re:irony of growing "closed stack" research librar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345217)

You are lucky you get the physical access. Princeton doesn't let the public in.

So... (1)

IbnSlash (922267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344139)

Does this mean that MIT will not be publishing anything in Science or Nature? Somehow I don't believe that.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344299)

Authors may opt out on a paper-by-paper basis.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344319)

No. I believe that if 'Science' or 'Nature' wants to publish anything by an MIT professor, they will have to allow the professor/MIT to also make their paper accessible to the public. They won't have much of a choice if other like-minded research institutions follow suit.

According to the Ars Technica article, individual schools at both Harvard and Stanford have already enacted similar policies.

Where are the other guys? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344251)

So what do you say, CalTech, Berkeley, Stanford, etc.? Your silence is deafening.

It's a relief to see some elites in the country live up to the higher standard expected of them, unlike, say, oh... I don't know... BANKERS?

For this to really work, .... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344317)

More universities MUST join this. Preferably, a number of state universities. At that point, congressmen will have a difficult time saying no to this.

Re:For this to really work, .... (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345073)

There are a good number of universities that do have open access policies; sometimes, too, the whole university won't have adopted one, but a specific college or school will have.

For example, Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences [chronicle.com] voted to adopt an open-access policy last year. I also think that all of Duke's law journals are open-access.

Evolutionary pressure now comes into play. (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345969)

More universities MUST join this. Preferably, a number of state universities. At that point, congressmen will have a difficult time saying no to this.

IMHO, now that it is started, evolutionary pressure comes into play.

Those who publish their works online, quickly, with broad access, will be more available for reference from other works, compared to those who wait for journal publication. Their good works will get a higher citation rate and sometimes priority. Such feathers in their cap will selectively advance their careers and retard those of their journal-publishing peers. (Just as journal publishing replaced things like anagram-publication to claim priority without actually making the work public.)

This will work even better if the peer-review function can be disconnected from the print-journal publication and ported to an electronic publication model. That would avoid burying the respectable work in the chaff and aid in search filtering as well as re-enabling the manual method at electronic network, rather than print library, speeds.

This is going to hurt smaller research groups a lo (4, Informative)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344509)

I'm a small-fry researcher at a small-fry university. Without name recognition, what gets my research read is the fact that I can (occasionally, when it's worthy) get it into a name-brand journal where approval of the referees signifies real merit. Without that exposure, no matter how good my research is, it will be very difficult to get it widely read because evaluation of quality takes serious time and thought -- time that most researchers are not willing to spend on every paper on Arxiv posted by any yahoo.

The converse is also true -- I use the journal's screening to figure out what to read because I don't have time to read every single thing, even preliminarily. The most cursory reading of a novel scientific paper is ~10 minutes, and even then, I've probably just read the abstract, skimmed the figures and then jumped to the conclusion. You can't seriously expect me to do that for every vaguely relevant paper in the field -- I just can't. So if there is an important paper that I should read, I count on the journals to bring it to my attention.

IMO, what will actually happen is that a free/open system is that the loss of the imprimatur of journal publication will mean increased reliance on other ways to quickly evaluate works. Without name-brand journals, name-recognition will become even more important, which will lead to even more of the sort of "superstar" science in which funding and interest is ever more concentrated in a few research groups.

I'm quite happy with the current system, warts and all -- we pay the journals to do the insanely laborious task of filtering through all the submissions and providing us with a reasonable subset that represent (with some measurement error) the most salient works.

Re:This is going to hurt smaller research groups a (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344831)

I'm quite happy with the current system, warts and all -- we pay the journals to do the insanely laborious task of filtering through all the submissions and providing us with a reasonable subset that represent (with some measurement error) the most salient works.

Do you? Or do you pay journal to organize unpaid reviewers to determine the quality of submissions, and to cover the cost of distribution? Because I thought that most reviewers and editors don't get paid.

The point is that now distribution costs can be close to nil, but subscription prices keep increasing. I don't see why an open-access journal that was not affiliated with a commercial publisher could not accomplish the same thing, and maintain the quality of articles. The "imprimatur" will simply no longer come courtesy of a commercial publisher - the brand name, e.g., "Well-Respected Journal of X" can persist. After all, it is not the publisher that provides the quality, but the editors and reviewers.

Re:This is going to hurt smaller research groups a (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345031)

After all, it is not the publisher that provides the quality, but the editors and reviewers.

The editors do not work for free, and they (plus staff, also paid) do the majority of the filtering work. Most of the papers submitted don't make it to the reviewers. Without them, the reviewers cannot function due to much larger workload. Yes, I review articles for free. No, I will not review more than 2-3 per month -- each one takes days worth of work to really evaluate to the standard that I feel appropriate. If you are feeding me crap to review, I'd just as well not review at all.

Re:This is going to hurt smaller research groups a (1)

JimFive (1064958) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344839)

I'm quite happy with the current system, warts and all -- we pay the journals to do the insanely laborious task of filtering through all the submissions and providing us with a reasonable subset that represent (with some measurement error) the most salient works.

Assuming most readers of the Journals agree with this then the decision by the MIT faculty won't adversely affect the Journals. They will still have subscribers and reviewers, they just won't have exclusive copyright on the material.

Since what you are paying for is the work of the Journals' staff everything can stay as it is AND the authors can maintain the right to open their material for access to everyone.

Sounds like win-win to me.
--
JimFive

Re:This is going to hurt smaller research groups a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27344897)

This is exactly the point against fully open source. Journals create a more level playing field between researchers at (for no fault of their own) no-name universities and those at recognizable universities. Why do you want to publish in Science? Because of the name that goes with the article (i.e. it;s impact), why would you want to go to MIT? For the same reason, as someone has already pointed out you will get the same education at many universities so it makes little sense in paying so much money if you ONLY want a good education but that's not the point. You get instant recognition if you are associated with MIT or with Science. If the publishing also goes to the universities then where will it leave well-deserved research from people in no-name places? So it is actually going to give these universities a monopoly on research not create a means of research dissemination. In this scenario they will get even more money from funding agencies then before. But the journals have gotten out of control and charge far to much for the services they provide, as a reviewer myself I have to do voluntary work for these journals while they make money from it.

Re:This is going to hurt smaller research groups a (1)

CPMDer (1516423) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344951)

This is exactly the point against fully open source. Journals create a more level playing field between researchers at (for no fault of their own) no-name universities and those at recognizable universities. Why do you want to publish in Science? Because of the name that goes with the article (i.e. it;s impact), why would you want to go to MIT? For the same reason, as someone has already pointed out you will get the same education at many universities so it makes little sense in paying so much money if you ONLY want a good education but that's not the point. You get instant recognition if you are associated with MIT or with Science. If the publishing also goes to the universities then where will it leave well-deserved research from people in no-name places? So it is actually going to give these universities a monopoly on research not create a means of research dissemination. In this scenario they will get even more money from funding agencies then before. But the journals have gotten out of control and charge far to much for the services they provide, as a reviewer myself I have to do voluntary work for these journals while they make money from it.

Re:This is going to hurt smaller research groups a (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345311)

IMO, what will actually happen is that a free/open system is that the loss of the imprimatur of journal publication will mean increased reliance on other ways to quickly evaluate works.

Great, so now we'll have research evaluation services instead of name brand journals. The difference will be that the evaluation service won't be able to claim copyright over what it's evaluating.

You know who's in a great position to become a research evaluation service? The existing name brand journals, that's who. Subscribers can use them if they want to, but they won't be forced to just to get access to the research.

And there's an opportunity filling the hole. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345687)

IMO ... a free/open system [loses] the imprimatur of journal publication [producing] increased reliance on other ways to quickly evaluate works.

Which produce the opportunity to fill the void (if the publications don't come to their senses and do it) by organizing a peer-review group to fill this sudden void.

Think "Journal of Links" - though it might also provide editing feedback, talking the author into revisions to improve the paper and/or make it conform to the journal's standards and become suitable for linkage, just as print journals do for publication.

The two functions became conflated by the cost structures of print publishing - allowing the editorial function to be funded by the journal subscription fees as a convenient revenue stream to be tapped.

But the bulk of the work in journal peer-review is volunteer. Seems to me, once the printing costs were eliminated, such a journal could be funded by a number of sources: advertising (i.e. lab equipment suppliers), grants / endowments, making "being an editor of the journal" a prestige function for salaried faculty members, subscriptions to archival-quality links-plus-content hard media, print-on-demand copies of papers (or journal "issues") as a service (for instance by contracting with operations such as Kinkos or Amazon), etc. (Some of these might require a non-exclusive copyright license from the authors as a condition of "inclusion".)

Feel up to organizing such a thing?

Did anyone else read it... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344539)

"MIT To Make All Faulty Publications Open Access"

I guess it is the same thing for a lot of the Publications.

This is good and bad (2, Interesting)

NotNormallyNormal (1311339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344711)

I see this as good and bad.

It is generally a good thing that the research gets out and is seen by as many people as possible. Show me a person off the street who is going to care about some paper on quantum mechanics, however. The scientists and researchers are generally going to have access to these papers in some fashion anyway, via university library electronic journal access or professional groups that they may be a part of (such as the ACM).

The bad thing is that journals may selectively not publish papers they would have previously accepted from a researcher if they require open access. You may not think this is that important. They can find a different place to publish. Things aren't that simple when it comes down to it though. Faculty and research hires and promotions are often based on WHICH journals you publish in as much as how much you publish. As a young researcher I would hate to lose out to someone for a tenured position because they published a few less papers in higher profile journals but I had to publish in lower ranked journals because of open access.

One scientific author's opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345123)

Thoughts:

1. This decision will not affect the publishing industry much, as long as only MIT and similarly well funded institutions are the only ones to have this policy.

For example, I recently published an article in a Springer journal (small circulation) but one that was well suited to the paper's content. To publish the paper "Open Access", I would have been required to pay a fee...something in the neighborhood of $2k-$3k. If I was a big name researcher who was well funded by grants...well...this is exactly the kind of stuff grants can pay for. And since that sort of fee is something like 5% of what it takes to hire a postdoc, it would be only a negligible part of the annual dispersion of grant $.

So for "well endowed" researchers (no pun intended) open access doesn't really limit the journal selection, because many will allow open access for a fee which is reasonable to those that have plenty of cash to burn.

2. For the rest of us that work at a college/uni without funding (or at least one that isn't going to require open access anytime soon) what is the big deal? I realize free as in freedom is the goal and all that...but I read the fine print of the agreement with my publisher:

I agreed to let them have exclusive distribution rights of the published version of the paper. The ideas (patentable, perhaps) are still mine, and I'm even allowed to distribute a "preprint" version of the article on my own website...as long as I've compiled it from my own sources. That's good enough for me.

In the future, when an appropriate journal, of similar level of integrity with the same academic focus which gives open access for free, I'll publish there. Until then, what's the big deal?

Publishers stewing in their own blood... (2, Insightful)

bradbury (33372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345327)

One can argue that this is a stew of the publishers' own making. When you charge on the order of $20-30+ to receive a copy of a single article (which presumably costs pennies to distribute) then you are asking for a backlash. I applaud MIT for stepping up to the plate and suggest that the other Ivy League schools do so as well. Though the PLoS work which I believe is largely based at Stanford suggests that this is already in progress.

Even PNAS is slowly increasing its public access articles (and with acknowledgement, their archives are largely open). So the public (and students) have much more access to scientific information than they once did. This does not however keep some publishing groups (e.g. Nature) from going in different directions. It appears to me as if Nature is on a path of only publishing commissioned articles [1] for review which may be very difficult for University's or Government's to regulate.

I would challenge Nature's publishers -- here and in public -- "When and how do you intend to implement an open access policy?"

1. It could be argued that Science is only a step behind.

big show for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345865)

at Harvard it's also a "policy", but getting an exception to the policy is automatic, and the repository certainly shows that most people are taking advantage of it.

see here: http://osc.hul.harvard.edu/Apps/app.php?app=waiver

and a unanimous vote at a campus wide faculty meeting isn't meaningful in any way. i'd wager attendance is below 1/3 of faculty.

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