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Publisher Pulls Supports; 'Research Works Act' Killed

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the those-bits-aren't-free dept.

United States 72

crabel writes "It appears the dreaded Research Works Act is dead. The bill would have prevented agencies of the federal government from requiring public access to federally subsidized research. After Elsevier pulled its support, it was decided that no legislative action will be taken on the bill." A glimmer of hope as well: "Meanwhile, attention has shifted to another proposed bill: the reintroduced Federal Research Public Access Act, which would require public access." Elsevier has vowed to battle it, however.

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what a dick (-1, Offtopic)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180243)

what a dick

What are you waiting for if you're an US citizen (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180277)

Sign the petition(s) to the Congress
http://www.congressweb.com/cweb2/index.cfm/siteid/sparc

and to the white house
https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/!/petition/strengthen-public-access-publicly-funded-research-and-support-federal-research-public-access-act/jF4mxRc4

Unless you like being locked out behind a paywall from research paid with your tax dollars.

Re:What are you waiting for if you're an US citize (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180471)

Done.

Re:What are you waiting for if you're an US citize (3, Informative)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181249)

Re:What are you waiting for if you're an US citize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39185237)

Yes, we are. Almost didn't bother cutting and pasting until I saw your links. :)

Re:What are you waiting for if you're an US citize (1)

DeafScribe (639721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39182553)

Done. Spread this around.

Re:What are you waiting for if you're an US citize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39183441)

The biggest supporters of this will probably be fourth years undergraduate or graduate students in any institution not rich enough to pay for the big deals.Also retired researchers that don't have institutional access anymore.There are probably far more than 25000 such persons in the US. Enough for the white house petition.

Re:What are you waiting for if you're an US citize (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39185145)

Here is a better direction, How about the tax payers telling government where to spend the tax dollars they insist we pay them. The system is already there with government revenue collections that they can direct each tax payers funding according to what each tax payers wants their taxes to be spend on.

In other words, know any tax payers who'd not want access to what they pay for?

Thank you US citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39185841)

The white house petition went up from 86/87 at the time of the posting to 161. It has reached the first milestone and is now publicly visible on the whitehouse website,
see WhiteHouse petitions [whitehouse.gov] . Only 10 days left to reach 25 000. Between grad students, retired researchers and patient groups that want access to medical research, it should have been easy had the petition been advertised. It's time taxpayers around the world unite to put an end to paywalls protecting taxpayer funded research. It's time the academic publishing multinationals stop seeing taxpayers as walking wallets. I hope the US shows the world the way by adopting FRPAA. Don't forget it's an election year.

This is the first I am hearing about this (3, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180297)

and it is good to hear it is dead, but on the other hand, the man pulling the strings will most likely be pushing for something else.

weill be a good idea to keep an eye on what this guy/group pushing this is up to

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180415)

What's the deal with the Research Work Act? Is it good or is it whack?

Re:I agree (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180949)

It's whack.

I'll try to explain it simply:
The government finances scientific research, with tax money.
That research is conducted by scientists, then other sicentists review the research for flaws, and finally the research is published in scientific journals. Elsevier is the editor of several such journals.

Elsevier and other publishers do not pay scientists who do research and they do not pay the scientists who review the original research either. They don't pay anybody. They only pay the publication of journals (i.e. printing). And then they sell those journals for a very, very expensive sum of money. I don't have the prices, but it's so expensive that only universities buy these journals (even public libraries can't afford them).
So Elsevier and other publishers like them make a ton of money through the work of others.

Now get this:
The government wanted research that it finances to be available to the public. Your tax money pays for research, therefore you should have access to that research - makes sense, right?
Well Elsevier had a problem with that. Publishers such as them try to keep the research for themselves, in order to force universities and public services to buy their journals. So Elsevier pushed the Research Works Act.
As the summary says, this act would make it illegal for the government to say "we'll pay for this research, but on the condition that the results are made public". Yes, I know how crazy it sounds but no, there's no mistake.
It's like you paying an artist to make a painting, and then being forced to pay a publisher (on top of the artist) in order to receive the painting.

The Federal Research Public Access Act, on the other hand, is a law that makes public access mandatory for research that is financed by the government. It's a good thing. Currently, the government can choose to pay for research without the results being made public. Where do you find the results then? In the journals of Elsevier and co. Why should you pay to see the research your tax money financed? You shouldn't!
So that law is a good thing. It would put an end to research paid with tax money but locked away from the public. With that law, if your taxes pay for research, then you get access to it, no exceptions.

On top of giving you what you are owed (i.e. the research you paid for), this law will also help science in general.
The premise behind science is that every fact can be checked. You can either do the research yourself, or you can read the papers on the original research. This is important for scientists because if scientist A could not know what scientist B did, science would not advance.
However, it is also important that the public be able to access the research. Science is important in society. Take global warming: there's a lot of controversy about it. Maybe it's real, maybe it's a hoax. People should be able to see all the research on it (and I mean the full original research, not a summary), and make their own opinion. Of course understanding all that research requires knowledge and intelligence, but people who wish to look at it should be able to do that. Science is about evidence and proof - science is not "I'm a scientist so believe everything I say!". Having science locked up behind expensive journals forces the public to trust scientists entirely, instead of letting the public study the research and make its own opinion.

And why are expensive scientific journals an issue now? Because of the Internet and advances in computers. Before, these journals had to be printed. If you haven't seen these journals before, trust me, they're huge and there's usually a new one to print each month. Printing costs are high (although nowhere close to the sale price - trust me, the publishers make insane profits).
But as long as these journals were printed, people tolerated the high prices. But now, with the Internet, the publishers have very little costs. The articles are written by scientists. They are also reviewed by other scientists. The editors don't pay these scientists a single cent. All the editors do is, pretty much, put the approved scientific articles together in a bundle. So people are very displeased that these journals are so expensive only universities can afford them. People want these journals in public libraries too (you must be a student or teacher to access university libraries). Some people even wish we could access these journals from home.
With the Internet, this could be done if the publishers were not so greedy. That's why this is suddenly an issue today, yet you've never heard of it before.

Re:I agree (2)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181317)

well said. One point of interest to some: When you publish through almost all journals these days, they recognize that the version you submit is yours. The version that is peer reviewed is yours. The version that you give to them for typesetting is theirs once they do said editing, typsetting, printing.

The problem is that with the time and effort it takes to get to the ready to print stage, only a small percentage of papers get 'published' in the pre-typeset form. almost all the info is there as it will be printed. I think some journals may claim some restriction, especially on 'public databases', but the ones I'e read are fairly straightforward about this (they may request you put a note in the document to the effect of 'this is a preprint of an article published in Journal XYZ on DD/MM/YYYY. Arxiv.org has gotten rather popular, but only for a small set of technical categories. DOE agencies have a lot of their papers posted on their websites. DOD less so, but DTIC.mil has a bunch. Both are spidered by google scholar.

Re:I agree (4, Informative)

j-beda (85386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181669)

There is a list of a lot of "open access" repositories at:

http://roarmap.eprints.org/ [eprints.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ROARMAP [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Open_access_archives [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArXiv [wikipedia.org]

In addition to funding agencies with open access requirements for research they fund, some fairly "big name" institutions in the US maintain documents produced by their faculty:

Harvard Arts and Science - http://roarmap.eprints.org/75/ [eprints.org]
University of California - http://roarmap.eprints.org/55/ [eprints.org]
MIT - http://roarmap.eprints.org/122/ [eprints.org]

Typeset your own papers (3, Insightful)

dingram17 (839714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181687)

Engineers and Computer Scientists have this sorted with LaTeX. Others can take advantage of graphical editors for LaTeX like LyX, and generate publication quality manuscripts. The typeset output from the LaTeX IEEE template is not identical to what the IEEE finally typeset, but it is a very close copy. Similarly the Microsoft Word template is pretty good too.

I know many journals only want 'plain text' and then do the typesetting. There is a lot of skill in this and it does cost money. Perhaps if the journals received LaTeX formatted text then the paper could be open access for free? Fat chance.

Open Access is required at my university, and we are required to publish the 'accepted version', but not the 'published version' (with some exceptions). OAKList [qut.edu.au] provides a reference for publication policies.

Re:Typeset your own papers (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39183423)

The typeset output from the LaTeX IEEE template is not identical to what the IEEE finally typeset,

Indeed it isn't. I've published at the IEEE. Do you know, they can't typeset tables? Honestly, it's true. They extract the table from the LaTeX'd document as a very high resolution bitmap and then insert it into their document.

Similarly the Microsoft Word template is pretty good too.

It's a pretty poor approximation. The typesetting in word simply isn't up to the task.

I know many journals only want 'plain text' and then do the typesetting.

I've never encountered one.

Re:Typeset your own papers (1)

dingram17 (839714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39183709)

The IEEE also convert nice vector graphic illustrations to bitmap format too :-( The only publications that remain vector are conferences where the authors have to make their own PDFs (and then jump through the IEEE hoops to get it validated). The text in IEEE journals is slightly denser than the LaTeX class. I saved a page on my most recent journal paper and avoided the page charges, so I am happy about that.

IET Journals will take .tex files, but really are after the text. The same goes with Elsevier journals. The Elsevier LaTeX class does not approximate the typeset format, but contains the basic formatting that they can make use of.

Re:I agree (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181333)

When I get more moderator posts I will come back and mod this up. Well written. Thank you.

Re:I agree (1)

wzzzzrd (886091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39183569)

nitpick: Which would be impossible, since you already posted in this discussion ;)

Doesn't the GPL also deprive some taxpayers access (1)

drnb (2434720) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181881)

... The government wanted research that it finances to be available to the public. Your tax money pays for research, therefore you should have access to that research - makes sense, right? ... if your taxes pay for research, then you get access to it, no exceptions ...

I like to think about possible unintended consequences, consider also applying these ideals to government sponsored source code ...

Doesn't the GPL violate the spirit of such open access? It denies some taxpayers the ability to use government funded source code, namely those who would use the taxpayer funded code in a non-GPL project. Shouldn't government funded source code be accessible to both the GPL and BSD communities? Why does a researcher being paid by taxpayers get to decide which taxpayer communities get access? Just to be clear, of course anyone developing their code at their own expense has every right to make the code GPL only. However if someone else is paying the bill that other person gets to make the call.

So if legislation can force government funded research to be made available without restriction then the same could be required of government funded source code.

Re:Doesn't the GPL also deprive some taxpayers acc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39182099)

Yes, you are correct. That is more or less why I release my research code under the Apache 2 license even though I would release any code I developed on my own time under [A]GPLv3. I do not recall ever coming across any GPL'd research code, although that is not to say it doesn't exist. To be honest, the most common license for research code in my experience is "ask the author and they might send you a copy", although BSD-style licensed code is not rare.

(Yes, I know you were not talking about just research code, but I figured I would tie into the discussion.)

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39181989)

so, make sure your scientists PUBLSH SOMEWHERE THE FUCK ELSE!!!

I don't get why people keep publishing in "prestigious" magazines when they should be having everything electronically and freely avaliable to EVERYONE!!!

NSF should have its own distribution journals, and they ought to be considered as first choice.

go Open Access Journals!

Re:I agree (4, Insightful)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39182633)

Because we are given jobs by big university HR departments. They count up "impact factors" and other BS metrics to measure your output. So publishing elsewhere can be a good way to not get your next job.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39182547)

The funny thing is that most of the subscribers to these journals are payong for them with tax money .... Libraries, Universities etc.

Re:I agree (1)

opinionbot (1940160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39183107)

I agree with this, and try to publish a preprint of all my papers on arXiv.

if your taxes pay for research, then you get access to it, no exceptions.

What about classified research? e.g. weapons research? There need to be some exceptions, but they should be the exception, not the rule

Re:I agree (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39183225)

I'll try to explain it simply:
The government finances scientific research, with tax money.
That research is conducted by scientists, then other sicentists review the research for flaws, and finally the research is published in scientific journals. Elsevier is the editor of several such journals.

Publisher, not editor.

Elsevier and other publishers do not pay scientists who do research and they do not pay the scientists who review the original research either. They don't pay anybody. They only pay the publication of journals (i.e. printing). And then they sell those journals for a very, very expensive sum of money. I don't have the prices, but it's so expensive that only universities buy these journals (even public libraries can't afford them).
So Elsevier and other publishers like them make a ton of money through the work of others.

On the other hand, it does cost quite a bit to print a journal. It's on high-quality paper, not the normal rubbish, and it's done with a very high quality print mechanism. A copy of a journal is supposed to be able to survive for at least a century with only minimal effort at maintenance. A journal paper is for life (and beyond), not just for Christmas.

Which isn't to say that the current situation is right either. Too many rights have been signed over in the past. Prices are not necessarily right either (though long-term preservation of data is also surprisingly expensive if you're actually serious).

Now get this:
The government wanted research that it finances to be available to the public. Your tax money pays for research, therefore you should have access to that research - makes sense, right?
Well Elsevier had a problem with that. Publishers such as them try to keep the research for themselves, in order to force universities and public services to buy their journals. So Elsevier pushed the Research Works Act.
As the summary says, this act would make it illegal for the government to say "we'll pay for this research, but on the condition that the results are made public". Yes, I know how crazy it sounds but no, there's no mistake.
It's like you paying an artist to make a painting, and then being forced to pay a publisher (on top of the artist) in order to receive the painting.

But getting access to the work isn't free. It might be very cheap, it might be paid by someone else, but it's not going to be free. For some works of art, it would be the costs involved in getting to see it that would dominate (there's lots of public art in NYC, but it's not very cheap to access from Colorado). For others, the reproduction costs might be covered through your internet access charges or through advertisements.

For science, access is somewhat different. In particular, there's three key parts: the data, the method and the results. There's a habit of making both method and results available through journals (which isn't a bad method, though it is slow) and conferences (quicker, far more ephemeral) that have been peer-reviewed (a good thing!) Now you also see people putting what they do online, but usually then without peer review (discounting the writing of nasty comments in Twitter) so there's very little filtering at all. The problem with a lack of filtering is that it means there's no inclination for people to actually prove their argument; research shouldn't be a bunch of advertorials!

The third part is the data. We're still learning how to effectively put that online. (Just piling it up in a big heap on a disk with no backups and piss-poor search is not a good way, and Google aren't good at indexing this sort of thing as it isn't link-heavy.)

[...]

And why are expensive scientific journals an issue now? Because of the Internet and advances in computers. Before, these journals had to be printed. If you haven't seen these journals before, trust me, they're huge and there's usually a new one to print each month. Printing costs are high (although nowhere close to the sale price - trust me, the publishers make insane profits).

But as long as these journals were printed, people tolerated the high prices. But now, with the Internet, the publishers have very little costs. The articles are written by scientists. They are also reviewed by other scientists. The editors don't pay these scientists a single cent. All the editors do is, pretty much, put the approved scientific articles together in a bundle. So people are very displeased that these journals are so expensive only universities can afford them. People want these journals in public libraries too (you must be a student or teacher to access university libraries). Some people even wish we could access these journals from home.

With the Internet, this could be done if the publishers were not so greedy. That's why this is suddenly an issue today, yet you've never heard of it before.

Long-term preservation of data is costly, alas. You might think that disks are going to keep getting cheaper at an exponential rate and that this will make the cost moot, but it's not actually true. The prospects for 10 years ahead are dodgy (that's about the lead time on disk factory manufacturing and all the test gear, etc.) and the closer term prospects are dominated by the shock due to the floods in Thailand. What's more, planning how to fund things that far ahead is awkward, since the answers of classical economics are known to be BS and there's a lot of risk from fraud when there's a lot of money involved. Add to that the fact that data is typically sensitive to interruptions of service, so you can't just bung it on a disk and put that in a storage box. You have to revalidate the data (or more particularly its storage medium) from time to time, and replicate and replace. All these costs add up (multiply up?) and the result is both expensive and non-obvious.

With the traditional journal model, it doesn't matter too much; costs are borne at the point of consumption so they're easy to cope with (if sometimes usurious). Shifting the costs to an up-front charge — what you're arguing for, and frankly something that I think is a good idea providing it's funded correctly — is an entirely different kettle of fish. I suspect that the journals are charging too much, though not as much too much as you might think, and that they are counting too much of that as profit rather than investment in keeping things going in the long-term. Getting a straight answer out of anyone is hard; the journal publishers are keeping very quiet on their finances and the academics (mostly) know jack-shit about long-term information preservation. Just waving your hands and saying "the internet solves this" is so thoroughly ignorant of the costs that I feel certain you must be an academic, in spirit if nothing else. (A librarian wouldn't be nearly so cavalier.)

Re:I agree (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39186163)

though long-term preservation of data is also surprisingly expensive if you're actually serious

Afaict jounal papers are usually well under 10 megabyte each. That means you can fit over three hundred thousand of them on a modern hard drive.

Lets say you can put four drives in a server and you use raid 5 (purely to speed up recovery, multiple servers provide the real redudancy), that is over 900000 papers on a server.

Now suppose said server costs a thousand pounds a year for hosting and periodic replacement and you want one on each continent for redundancy. You are talking £7000 per year.

That is less than a penny per paper per year.

Unless you want to protect against the end of civilisation or something I just don't see any reason digitally archiving papers should be all that expensive. Certainly it should be a tiny fraction of the cost of paper archives.

Re:I agree (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39184887)

Just FYI, I am trying to write my Masters Thesis from home and so I was trying to look up several research papers that I could use as part of my thesis work. Because I'm not at the school on one of the school's computers or VPN'd into their network, I don't have "free" access to these journals. So I decided to see how much an article would cost to get a copy, thinking they would be around $5-$10 each, but hoping for like a dollar or two(like the cost of a digital manga issue). Much to my surprise, EACH article was $30+. Not each issue of a journal, but each article in the journal would cost me $30. Now you include 20-30 of such articles in a journal, and you can see that the prices are approaching $600-$1,000 per issue.

Re:I agree (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39186391)

Yeah but, you are involved with a university, you should have no problem getting a membership and then cheaper fees or just go all out and get a full repository access.
But...why don't you VPN into the network, that's what I did when i wanted stuff from ACM.

Re:I agree (1)

steveg (55825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189735)

I had a friend whose employer had him sign up for classes (which he never attended) at our university, just so he could access journal articles. A few thousand dollars of tuition was far cheaper than the subscription for the engineering jounal they wanted articles from. I don't remember how much he told me that was (it's been a few years) but it was either $30,000 or $60,000.

Re:This is the first I am hearing about this (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180581)

and it is good to hear it is dead, but on the other hand, the man pulling the strings will most likely be pushing for something else.
 

Or maybe not.

As in Football, the best Defense is a good Offense.

With the second bill introduced to MANDATE public access, Elsevier [elsevier.com] is now on their heels, trying to defend their turf, and may not have the clout to fight both fronts. They are pretty much going to have to spend their blood and treasure fighting the Federal Research Public Access Act, because if it passes anything they could propose would first have to overcome that hurdle.

A Dutch company trying to dictate publishing policy to the US Government isn't likely to play well with the US tax payer in an election year.
That gives a year's grace to push the Public Access Act thru, with the major political parties both jockeying for position as the party of open-ness.

A good thing? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180305)

Why is the summary making this sound like a good thing?
Don't we want public access to things funded by public money?

Re:A good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180389)

Uh... yes? Which ... is kind of why legislation that would prevent any requirement to have publicly funded research to be publicly accessible is bad? And if that is bad, then such legislation being dead is good?

Re:A good thing? (2)

JanneM (7445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180393)

"Don't we want public access to things funded by public money?"

Yes. And the "Research Works Act" would have essentially forbidden open access of said research.

Re:A good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180503)

I see now. I misread it. I also misunderstood the last line to mean that there was a glimmer of hope that the bill would be defeated.

Re:A good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180397)

The "bill" (RWA) preventing agencies such as the NIH from mandating open access has been dropped. The "bill" doing the contrary (FRPAA) mandating that the other agencies such as the NSF, NASA adopt the same policy as the NIH hasn't been dropped yet.

Re:A good thing? (1)

Diego_27182818 (174390) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180403)

Because the bill prevented federal agencies from requiring public access. The people doing the research could have provided public access but they could not be required to provide that access.

Re:A good thing? (1)

Xandrax (2451618) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180481)

Blame it on poor wording. As worded, it reads that the bill would prevent agencies from requiring public access, which would indicate that, had it passed, agencies would not have been able to require public access.

Properly worded, it would have indicated that the bill would have prevented a requirement of public access by government agencies.

Re:A good thing? (1)

Xandrax (2451618) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180525)

Not quite right either. It would have prevented a requirement of government agencies to provide public access.

Re:A good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180613)

I'm certain the confusion in the wording and titling of the Act was purely intentional. Indeed Michael Eisen's blog most makes that point very clear.

Doesn't go far enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180407)

I generally support open access to publicly funded research. It's always troubled me that research conducted at state (not federal) institutions can be held as proprietary, patented, and used in for-profit purposes. That applies if, for example, a state university funds a graduate student using state money, the university can then patent works from that research and prevent it from being freely available to taxpayers. I know that's at the state level, not at the federal level, but I don't think the Federal Research Public Access Act can go far enough in those regards. This is especially true when, for example, a project might be funded mostly by NSF but also draw on some other sources of funding for graduate students. That's not an uncommon situation and such research shouldn't be patented by universities. Unfortunately, this is very common.

Re:Doesn't go far enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39182083)

"It's always troubled me that research conducted at state (not federal) institutions can be held as proprietary, patented, and used in for-profit purposes."

Don't like it? Then push your state legislature to raise your taxes to properly fund the state universities, and push your Representative and Senators to increase the NIH, NSF, DOE, DOD, USDA, etc. budgets to properly fund research. Academic research is starving. Grant success rates, which are determined by how many apply versus what pathetic allotment is given to the agencies, are down by half to a paltry 18%. That is, if you believe official reporting and not your own lying eyes which tell you it's down by a lot more, like somewhere between 5 and 10% success rate. Being an academic means that your job depends on you beating out nine out of ten other people, MINIMALLY, all of whom have PhDs and years (decades likely) of experience. That's just to stay employed. Federal grants are what fund academic research, at least until recently, and now academics are increasingly looking for alternatives to avoid sacking researchers. We're desperate. A good patent is a revenue stream the federal government no longer supplies, and hasn't supplied in nearly 10 years.

Either write your representatives and DEMAND A TAX HIKE TO FUND RESEARCH or allow us the option of patents and public-private partnerships so we have a slightly increased chance of not losing our jobs.

Re:Doesn't go far enough (2)

reasterling (1942300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39182439)

now academics are increasingly looking for alternatives to avoid sacking researchers.

GREAT. If you think patenting your research and locking it behind a pay wall is the way to make money then do it. Just don't ask me(the tax payer) to fund it for you. Go, start your own business. You have a PhD you can do this. Put on your big boy pants and stop asking us tax payers to fund your research.

If, on the other hand, you want our help with funding then quit griping and play by OUR rules. If you take our money then you are working for us. Whatever your work produces while you are working for us is ours. If you don't like it then get another job or start your own company.

Of course Elsevier opposes public access (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180535)

When you publish a paper in most peer-reviewed journals, you don't own that paper. A condition to getting published above and beyond the peer-review process is to sign over the copyright to the journal. You pay the publisher to print the article and then have to sign over the copyright. This is allowed to continue in large part because of the "publish or perish" environment in academia. The publishers can then charge excessive fees to access articles.

Federally funded research should be in the public domain unless there's a very good reason it shouldn't be, such as legitimate national security interests. Elsevier is objecting to the FRPAA because mandating open access to federal research would prevent them from hiding it behind copyrights.

The current system is broken in many ways. FRPAA isn't the answer, but it's a step in the right direction.

Re:Of course Elsevier opposes public access (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180707)

Mod parent Insightful.

If the AC is correct, then it's a good fight to make most* tax-payer funded research results public domain.

*However, there ought to be some important caveats. Any legislation which includes the words "all", "always", "never," or "none" should be looked at very carefully. Absolutes are usually not a good thing. Of course, then we have to trust the government when they tell us that this research shouldn't be released due to "National Security," but we pretty much already live in that world.

Re:Of course Elsevier opposes public access (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181221)

If you could keep research paid for by the US tax payers in the public domain for use only by US companies, then I would agree with you, but to make research I paid for... Free for companies/people in other countries to then turn around and use that research on products that get imported to the US is just silly.

Re:Of course Elsevier opposes public access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39181505)

That's an astoundingly myopic view. Science is built on sharing. The US is certainly a large contributor, but if the US locks down its research then others will lock out the US, and everyone lose.

Re:Of course Elsevier opposes public access (2)

LihTox (754597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39182349)

We're talking about copyrights, not patents. A copyright doesn't prevent other companies from building on your work, it only prevents them from duplicating your words; they can still read the journal where your research is published.

A patent is what prevents other people from using your ideas in their own inventions.

Re:Of course Elsevier opposes public access (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39182375)

We who? Because the second paragraph has nothing to do with copyrights.

Re:Of course Elsevier opposes public access (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39183669)

And copyrights have nothing to do with preventing foreign companies from using the results of research - or do you imagine that those copyrighted journals are available only in the US, cannot be exported, are only able to be read by US citizens, etc?

That was his point - copyrighted or not, others are free to use the results of the research. If you want to prevent that (which as others have pointed out would be astoundingly short-sighted) then you need to patent it (which for pure research may well not even be possible), and this entire discussion is about copyrights.

Re:Of course Elsevier opposes public access (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39184989)

Why don't we get a bunch of geeks together to fix this?

Assemble a crew of people from particular fields to make a paper-publishing website. Get a kickstarter going after you have a couple dozen prominent men and women from different scientific fields on board. Start with those fields, grow, and then add more and more fields. As the reputation grows it'll be easier to get other fields to hop on board. In 5-10 years it will be the place to get academic papers published.

Is this the work of Timothy Gowers? (2)

Tibixe (1138927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180541)

This is very probably the result of a widespread boycott of Elsevier started by Cambridge mathematician Timothy Gowers and other researchers. Supporting RWA was one of the reasons they were fed up with Elsevier.

How it all started: http://gowers.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/elsevier-my-part-in-its-downfall/ [wordpress.com]

Re:Is this the work of Timothy Gowers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180601)

Don't forget Tyler Neylon who set up http://thecostofknowledge.com/. 7500 academics pledging to boycott Elsevier.

With help from the hilarious Elfsevier http://twitter.com/#!/Elfsevier and of the bully FakeElsevier http://twitter.com/#!/FakeElsevier who was accused of single handedly bullying a multibillion dollar corporation.

Re:Is this the work of Timothy Gowers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39181111)

Tyler Neylon has done enough self promotion based on Gowers campaign, because he swooped in with a domain name squat in the comment thread. Neylon has always been, and still is a tool.

Re:Is this the work of Timothy Gowers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39182131)

Almost certainly Gowers boycott had a significant effect. Here is a letter that Elsevier posted to the math community today.

A letter to the mathematics community.
We are writing to let you know of a series of changes that we are making to how the Elsevier mathematics program will be run. Some of these are new initiatives, and some reflect changes that we have been working on over a longer period.

We have been listening actively to the community and we see a number of issues that we need to address, not least being open to what the community has to say:

Pricing
Mathematics journals published by Elsevier tend to be larger than those of other publishers. On a price-per-article, or price-per-page level, our prices are typically, but not always, lower than those of other mathematics publishers.

Our target is for all of our core mathematics titles to be priced at or below US$11 per article (equivalent to 50-60 cents per normal typeset page) by next year, placing us below most University presses, some societies and other commercial competitors. Where journals are more expensive than this, we will lower our prices, as we already have in recent years for journals such as the Journal of Algebra and Topology and its Applications, among others.

We realize that this is just part of the concerns about pricing -and we will seek to address concerns about the nature and composition of the large discounted agreements, through which most Universities now access journals - but addressing the base line pricing is a necessary first step.

Access and Open Archives
To make clear that we are committed to wider access, we have made the archives of 14 core mathematics journals open, from four years after publication, back to 1995, the year when we started publishing digitally. All current and future papers featured in these journals will become free to read, for subscribers and non subscribers alike. This initiative is part of a number of open access publishing options we have available which give researchers the freedom to choose to open their research beyond the academic community. For more information about Elsevier's open access options, visit www.elsevier.com/openaccess.

We are a founding partner in Research4Life, a public private partnership providing journal content to researchers in the developing world. More than 1600 Elsevier journals, including our mathematics titles, are available in more than 100 developing countries.

Our position on RWA
Elsevier has announced today that we are withdrawing our support for the Research Works Act. In recent weeks, our support for the Act has caused some in the community to question our commitment to serving the global research community and ensuring the best possible access to research publications and data. We have heard concerns from some Elsevier journal authors, editors and reviewers that the Act would be seen as a step backwards for expanding options for free and low cost public access to scholarly literature. That was certainly not the intention of the legislation or our intention in supporting it. Please read our full statement online.

Moving forward
Now that we have explained the steps we have taken so far we want to stress this is just the beginning.

We will create a scientific council for mathematics, to ensure that we are working in tandem with the mathematics community to address feedback and to give greater control and transparency to the community and we will engage actively with leaders in a number of countries to ensure that our mathematics program is meeting the needs of the community, globally and locally.

There are many other issues where we wish to engage with the community, including our efforts to improve digital rendering of mathematics, the use and misuse of citation measures for the discipline and our efforts to ensure high standard across all of our journals.

We welcome your views on these and all our efforts at: mathematics@elsevier.com

fakeelsevier (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180661)

If people want to keep up with this are aren't, following fakeelsevier on twitter is a humour way to so do. I for myself am not sure how all this is going to turn out. Publishing is not as expensive as it used to be, and much of the work to publish is essentially funded by grants and unpaid, so there is good arguments to made that publicly funded non profits consortiums can and probably should handle most of the heavy lifting. Libraries receiving a glossy magazine that researchers then have to manually copy is certainly out of date. Free, access my reciprocal agreements, or moderately priced online access certainly make more sense. Like book publishing, the fight against free access is a fight to keep to legacy and inefficient jobs and machinery in place. Economic growth not by freeing resources and talent to build new industry of the future, but by keeping resources locked away in fear that something different is something bad.

How is this allowed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39180679)

This is a German company, why are they allowed to lobby our government? Are foreign entities allowed to donate to campaigns? It was my impression that was illegal.

Re:How is this allowed? (2)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 2 years ago | (#39183877)

This is a German company, why are they allowed to lobby our government?

Anglo-Dutch actually. I worked for them as a contractor in their Oxford and Amsterdam offices.

Moncler Vest (-1, Offtopic)

monclerjackets123 (2584059) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180723)

New Moncler Jackets in Shop up to 80% off:Wear Moncler Down Jackets,vest,coat,to show your personality in winter! Moncler Vest [moncleronlinevest.com]

Seems appropriate (3, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 2 years ago | (#39180729)

As anyone who has ever done research before would know, the name of the bill is a total fabrication. Good riddance.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39182673)

Do you mean that you are publically admitting that Research Does Not Work?

I am confused (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181069)

The statement "The bill, HR 3699, would have prevented agencies of the federal government from requiring public access to federally subsidized research. " sounds like the bill would have prevented the requirement that federally funded research be public? I must have my head up my ass again...

Re:I am confused (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181079)

Crap I see this has been discussed. Well at least my head is out now...

Re:I am confused (1)

Greystripe (1985692) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181191)

Care for a breath mint?

Re:I am confused (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 2 years ago | (#39182167)

Lol, sure. Do you happen to have any shampoo?

Another Reason...? (1)

Dr_Ish (639005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181381)

So, there is yet one more reason to boycott the Dutch bandits at Elsevier? Bastards. Join the boycott at http://thecostofknowledge.com/ [thecostofknowledge.com]

Boycott (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39181455)

Looks like the Elsevier boycott [thecostofknowledge.com] by academics had an effect. Still, this looks like more of a tactical response than a real change in position for Elsevier.

Bill supported by only one company? (1)

zzyzyx (1382375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39182405)

"After Elsevier pulled its support, it was decided that no legislative action will be taken on the bill."

Is that all it takes to push a bill, the support of one company ?

Re:Bill supported by only one company? (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39183289)

Yes, I was pretty shocked by that detail as well. Maybe it's because I'm European, but I thought laws were made by lawmakers and, even though companies could be allowed to do some lobbying, the lawmakers were the ones who made the decision based on objective reasoning, like wise men. In reality, apparently, it's companies that decide whether to "support" laws (by buying congressmen to vote for it) or kill them (by buying congressmen to vote against it). It doesn't even appear to strike most slashdot users as abnormal anymore.

Silly business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39183179)

The federal government shouldn't be funding this to begin with.

PopVox page on the HR 4004 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39186187)

You can send a one-click letter to your congress-critters supporting HR 4004 at PopVox:

  https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/hr4004

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