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White House Tells Agencies To Increase Access to Fed-Funded Research

timothy posted about a year ago | from the taxes-and-the-commonwealth dept.

Government 121

Z80xxc! writes "The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a "policy memorandum" today requiring any federal agency with over $100 million in R&D expenditures each year to develop plans for making all research funded by that agency freely available to the public within one year of publication in any peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The full memorandum is available on the White House website. It appears that this policy would not only apply to federal agencies conducting research, but also to any university, private corporation, or other entity conducting research that arises from federal funding. For those in academia and the public at large, this is a huge step towards free open access to publicly funded research." Edward Tufte calls the move timid and unimaginative, linking to a Verge article that explains that it's not quite as sweeping as the summary above sounds.

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So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (2)

theodp (442580) | about a year ago | (#42989269)

Or will the DOJ indict President Obama, too?

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (2)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about a year ago | (#42989455)

He's catering to the publishers because he has to. It's politics, he's making positive steps in some areas but doesn't want to step on publisher's toes so they won't come after him with pitchforks and foil any other plans he has.

He has a lot on his plate, and you can't just go pushing everyone around in politics and expect to get everything you want.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989493)

He has a lot on his plate

So when it came to raising the debt ceiling he played golf in Hawaii.
When it comes to the sequester he plays golf in Florida.
When ambassadors are being killed in Lybia, no one can tell us where he was. Probably golf again.

Yea, he has had more vacations, costing more than I will make in my lifetime, in the last 6 months then the average family can take in a 5 year period.

He has a lot on his plate, but seems to think its more important to ignore all that and play golf instead.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989539)

Wow, you're a moron. Your opinions are most fascinating.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989661)

And the liberal name calling because I said the truth they don't want to hear. Liberal = fail because they can't handle the truth and resort to name calling FIRST because a debate on facts and issues is always a failure for them.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#42990073)

Okay, here are the facts for you. [factcheck.org] Short version: Obama has spent far less time on vacation, per time in office, than his predecessor did. In fact, there's a fairly striking pattern among recent Presidents when you look at vacation time by party affiliation ...

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (0)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#42990109)

BTW, you can Google "presidential vacation days" or some similar phrase and get multiple sources. Arguing in a vacuum on something like this is silly when the data are so readily available. But if you prefer ideological ranting to fact-based debate, hey, have fun with that. (Yeah, yeah, I know, "How long have you been on Slashdot?", etc.)

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990263)

But but but Bush!
When liberals fail completely and are embarrased about being called out on it, blame Bush!
I could write a program to post all your liberal comments.

If (my first post)
      print "Your a tea party moron and a bigot"
else
    print "But Bush!"
end

Thats right, I just summed up every liberal argument I've heard for the last five years. You and every liberal have failed to argue the merrits of your ideas every time you've been given a chance.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#42990417)

I see. And how many times during the Bush years did we hear Republicans screeching, "B-b-b-but CLINTON!!!" whenever one of their Glorious Leader's many failings was pointed out?

The inability to take what you dish out is one of the most striking characteristics of what passes for modern conservative thinking. It's simultaneously amusing and pathetic, like a three-year-old's rage when he's denied his favorite toy.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990573)

But Bush!!!

You repeated it again. My program is accurate once more. Its sad that half the country's political debates can be summed up so easily. I guess public education has completely destroyed the future. One more "winning" program brought to you by overwhelming taxes and massive overspending.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about a year ago | (#42991637)

Don't feed the trolls.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42991673)

Wait, didn't you just respond to a post discussing facts with talk of nothing but "But Bush..."? ... By your own program, does that make you a liberal then, and Obama supporter you are responding to a conservative?

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about a year ago | (#42990019)

I bet he sleeps too. Where's the outrage for that?

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990353)

On Sept 11, 2001, Bush was reading a book to school children. Was ridiculed for this behavior for YEARS, especially in a Michael Moore movie.
Bush [washingtonpost.com]

On Sept 11, 2012, Obama wasn't in contact, no one know where he was, while his employees were being killed in a foreign country. Couldn't be bothered to deal with an 8 hour attack at our embassy or or ambassador being killed. No one will answer where he was.
Obama [washingtonpost.com]

So yes, if he was sleeping after being told his people were being killed and he did nothing there is outrage. I know, them dieing is inconvient for your shilling for a corrupt president so you will ignore it. The families of those killed still have not been given any answers to their questions, Congress has not been given answers to their questions. And yes, if he was sleeping, there SHOULD be outrage.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (1)

guttentag (313541) | about a year ago | (#42989675)

Here's an idea:

1. Have Wikimedia set up a sort of wiki journal specifically for this that anyone can read for free (better yet, have the federal government pay Wikimedia for the server and bandwidth costs. It's a drop in the bucket for agencies that are spending 100 million on R&D.)
2. Give each of the federal agencies (that spend 100 million or more on R&D) accounts that can post articles
3. Give each major research university accounts that can edit and comment on the articles, but not post articles
4. Now you have a peer-reviewed journal and open access to research for the public
5. Profit! For society, that is (taxpayer-funded research becomes available to everyone)

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989859)

Why Wikimedia, and not say arXiv [arxiv.org] which already hosts free to read papers in several fields and is already publicly funded? The fields it is relevant for have been slowly expanding, and it wouldn't take much (short of maybe some culture issues in some fields) to expand it too all federally researched topics.

The peer-review part would be much harder though. The difficult part of peer review is not the infrastructure for recording comments, etc., but the management to deal with keeping the process on a timely basis, and to deal with disputes or disagreements, and to encourage people in a relevant field to spend their time on new articles they might not have noticed. That all certainly can be done by volunteers, but from experience, such work is much move involved and difficult than just reviewing a paper. Additionally, getting consistent and high quality reviewing and management there of becomes even more difficult with volunteers. If that part fails, then no one in a field will want to spend as much time paying attention to the articles if a lot of junk gets through.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (1)

Jetra (2622687) | about a year ago | (#42989541)

Because, clearly, they don't want their little Black Projects becoming known.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year ago | (#42989673)

I don't really understand this comment. I also don't understand the "national security" language in the order. I would find it hard to believe that a government as ridiculously secretive as ours has become, would rely on a paywall like lexis/nexis as a way of keeping information secret. What's a few hundred bucks between spies for a subscription to access to all the latest secrets about black projects? Obviously nothing -- that research won't be showing up anywhere.

I would like to know exactly why these national security terms are being used in relation to material that is unclassified. If it's unclassified, hasn't it already been determined not to endanger homeland security, by definition of being unclassified? Perhaps it was just a bunch of words thrown in to obscure the phrase "economic security" -- referring most likely to the security of those who wish the papers remain locked up.

To the extent feasible and consistent with applicable law and policy; agency mission; resource constraints; U.S. national, homeland, and economic security; and the objectives listed below, digitally formatted scientific data resulting from unclassified research supported wholly or in part by Federal funding should be stored and publicly accessible to search, retrieve, and analyze.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#42989681)

WRONG. These are research projects at universities and innoquious private firms and think tanks that range from how to grow sustainable fish populations to perpetual motion machines and other poppycock. Perfectly innocent and in some cases actually beneficial to people, as well as the idiotic. Its about damn time they started paying lip service to keeping publicly funded research in the public. The stuff you're talking about will never get public access anyway, nor was it meant to.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (1)

only_human (761334) | about a year ago | (#42989779)

Reading the Government is a bit like reading smoke signals in the rain but I am guessing that this snippet in section 3 of the memorandum is pushback:

"Agency plans must also describe, to the extent feasible, procedures the agency will take to help prevent the unauthorized mass redistribution of scholarly publications."

That suggests to me that they do not want to vindicate Aaron Swartz.

Re:So, Was Aaron Swartz RIght, After All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42991045)

This seems to be a common source of confusion. Of course Aaron Swartz was right in terms of the cause he tried to promote. I agreed with the principle he fought for. But that doesn't change the fact that (in my opinion) the way he chose to draw attention to the issue was illegal and wrong. You don't forward a just cause by illicitly connecting to a university network, violating terms of service for access to a bunch of journals, and then threaten to start distributing scanned-in papers that actually do take a lot of work to digitize. If JSTOR received enough donations, then I'm sure it could make all the scanned-in content available for free, but web servers, gear to do mass scanning of papers, and people to run the whole thing *do* cost money. They also have to negotiate with publishers if the material isn't yet in the public domain. That's why they charge universities money for access.

Were the charges against Swartz *WAY* out of line in scope and severity? Yes. Was what happened to him a tragedy? Yes. What what he did "right"? No. Not in my opinion.

Anyway, the same principle may be behind the proposed policy, but it's a very different implementation. I see no inconsistency here.

Increase acess to fed funded research (1)

Charles Queen (2846789) | about a year ago | (#42989275)

I have to disagree with this.I would think that it would depend on the type of research taking place.So far whenever outsied buisnesses etc get involved in fed funded reseach it ends up costing2-4 times more than it shoud and the research is usually something that is totaly non important

A good first step (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42989371)

Now we just need to cut the journal publishers out of the system entirely, since they provide no useful or necessary service. Academic publishers are parasites that exploit the volunteer labor of scientists; we no longer require their services to spread articles around the world. We have the Internet, let's just use it and stop clinging to obsolete ideas like copyright.

Re: A good first step (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42989521)

It's started happening in some areas. It's easiest in fields (like mine) where it's already standard for researchers to provide publication-ready final PDFs, usually typeset with LaTeX using a template provided by the journal. In that case, the publisher is not adding much value: they are just shuffling PDFs around, and as academics we are already quite capable of shuffling around our own PDFs.

JMLR [mit.edu] , which has displaced Machine Learning to be the top machine-learning journal within only a few years after the latter's editorial board resigned [sigir.org] to form it, is one of the success stories.

Re: A good first step (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | about a year ago | (#42990759)

Many of the journals we have now started as academic controlled publications like JMLR. It's fine to start over with new publications, but it's naive to think that doing so will solve the fundamental problems of access to research information.

JMLR, for example, is still under the control of a private publisher, which is affiliated with a private university. There's no real incentive for them to keep the information freely available any longer than is fashionable. In the several hundred year history of academic publishing, we've had many cycles of availability and restriction. In 20 years you may find yourself in the midst of another editorial mutiny unless things change more drastically.

Re: A good first step (1)

arcticinfantry (1130171) | about a year ago | (#42989615)

It's not volunteer labor except in very rare cases.

Re: A good first step (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989639)

Reviewers aren't paid. Academic editors aren't either. Awaitinbg reply confusing the role of technical editors and academic editors.

Re: A good first step (2)

smi.james.th (1706780) | about a year ago | (#42989663)

Sorry man, but there's already loads of crap on the internet. The peer review system is very important in establishing any sort of scientific credibility.

Re: A good first step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989825)

Not to mention that the most important thing the publishers provide is archiving. Open access papers are useless if they are lost.

Re: A good first step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989901)

Good thing LOCKSS exist and provide archiving for open access too.

Re: A good first step (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42991023)

The peer review system is not dependent on academic publishers. Reviewers and editors are volunteers under the current system, and would continue to do their voluntary work without the publishing industry.

Re: A good first step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42991649)

Reviewers and editors are volunteers under the current system

Maybe it depends on the field, because none of the editors of the journals I've worked with have been volunteers outside of conference proceedings.

Re: A good first step (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42991949)

The peer review system is not dependent on academic publishers. Reviewers and editors are volunteers under the current system, and would continue to do their voluntary work without the publishing industry.

How does that work in practice?

Lets say Joe Biologist has a paper he wants to publish, how does he get it reviewed by peers without the appearance of hand-picking his own reviewers? I always assumed the publishers solicited these reviews. Is there another mechanism?

Disclaimer: Not a scientist, so I have no knowledge of how this happens, but I've seen a lot of total quack "science" published as if it were real on the web.

Re: A good first step (2)

jpate (1356395) | about a year ago | (#42992401)

Academic journals typically have an editor or group of editors who work for little or no pay. These editors decide whether a submission should proceed to peer review, select the reviewers, and oversee the communication between the reviewers and the submitting authors. Academics do this work for free because it is considered to be part of the vocation [chronicle.com] of creating and expanding knowledge. Publishers were necessary in the past because they handled the logistics of typesetting and printing and distributing the material, but now authors are able to typeset their own papers and distribute them through the internet.

The Journal of Machine Learning Research [mit.edu] (JMLR) exempifies this change. Much of the editorial board of the Machine Learning Journal collectively resigned to form JMLR as an open-access journal. The new journal had all of the prestige and experience that the old one used to have, with virtually none of the costs, and is doing just fine.

Re: A good first step (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992705)

It's still a journal, with a board (as you pointed out, JMLR is successful because it inherited an experienced editorial board), editors, a database of reviewers, etc.

Journals DO useful things. There probably isn't any point in having large aggregate publishers like Elsevier anymore, but there certainly is still a reason to have journals with staff, volunteer or otherwise.

Some Slashdotters seem to think that academic publishing is just a matter of sticking some PDFs up on a web page. It's not. Publishers are expendable, journals and journal staff are not. Fortunately the latter are mostly volunteers.

Re: A good first step (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989925)

Umm, try volunteering for some of the editing work done on such publications (assuming you can, many of them used paid editors, even though the reviewers are volunteers). They certainly do provide a meaningful, and very difficult to perform service. I know from experience from just trying to manage a small conference proceedings that was peer-reviewed that was all managed by volunteers. Thankfully, it was not a periodic publication, as the time it took was a lot more than I expected, and not always easy to split up in a way that would keep things consistent.

Now whether the prices the publishers charge is reasonable is a whole different story.

(The car analogy: you can complain about the price of mechanics and complain that they sometimes scam or way overcharge... but that is different than saying mechanics provide no useful service, even if you could buy all the tools and learn to do all of the same work yourself with enough time)

+5 Insightful? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990359)

Who modded this up? Was it because it was denouncing copyright? Otherwise the comment seems to be a load of crap modded up by people who either don't actually deal with publishers or who only go through the motions of publishing papers without thinking about what they actually do. I do think there is a lot of problems with copyright and paywalls, and that journal publishers siphon too much money out of research projects, but saying they do so while not providing any service isn't going to help you find actual solutions to the problems.

Re:+5 Insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990927)

They provide new typos, new grammatical mistakes, awful typesetting and awful proofreading.

Re:+5 Insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42991613)

After fixing horrible LaTeX code cobbled together by the submitter...

Re:+5 Insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992789)

They don't fix the LaTeX code since they convert it into their own in house publishing system.

Re:+5 Insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993053)

Then why did they send back proofs and updated LaTeX code to me to see if any more changes needed to be made? If they are going to convert it to a different system, which I know some other journals do, then why bother updating and fixing the LaTeX? And why was the work I volunteered for a non-profit journal done in LaTeX and involved a lot of time fixing submissions code to get uniform typesetting and decent layout?

Maybe you should be more careful assuming all journals work the same. Especially considering that volunteer based ones are going to probably base their work flow on tools more commonly used by the community they get their volunteers from.

Build Fed Funded Voting software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989457)

Its time for the Fed to build its own Voting software, and have inspections done voting day by the same people who do the Vegas casinos machine inspections.

Re:Build Fed Funded Voting software (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42991991)

Dono if Vegas is the model you want to follow.

I talked with one programmer for slot machines who said it is the worst software imaginable, and even the programmers have no clue how it really works. As long as the end result of thousands of runs does not favor the house by more then X% its "good enough", and the inspectors simply rely on accumulated results.

Of course, if you ever beat these machines and win the super grand bonus payout of a gazillion dollars, the casino will simply claim a software error, and give you some token winnings and the bums rush out the door.

Even more... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989461)

Edward Tufte calls the move timid and unimaginative

Quoting other rabid AC: even more [slashdot.org] communism [slashdot.org]

</sarcasm>

$100m threshold? (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#42989463)

What a joke. Any research receiving tax dollars should have any and all research associated with it available to the public. Don't want to make your research public, then don't take tax money.

Re:$100m threshold? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42989533)

Apply it to private-sector companies who receive funding, and their patents as well, imo.

Re:$100m threshold? (1)

guttentag (313541) | about a year ago | (#42989767)

Normally I'd agree with that sentiment, but there's a point where the publishing requirement becomes such a burden that it gets in the way of the research, or prevents it altogether. What qualifies as research? You opened a spreadsheet today and had it calculate the average of a series of numbers? Sorry, now you have to write a report about why you did that research, your results, and what they mean. And then someone has to review it. And you have to submit a form certifying that you did your mandated report. And someone has to read those and put together a report on the compliance rates of every agency. And then they have to publish that.

We're talking about the federal government, an entity that adds an extra page to a four-page form [uscis.gov] so it can print its congressionally-mandated one-paragraph statement about its compliance with the "Paperwork Reduction Act," which actually increases the amount of paperwork in the process. There has to be a threshold. Besides, $100 million doesn't buy as much as you'd think when hammers cost $436, pliers cost $748 and toilet seats cost $640 [cnet.com] .

Re:$100m threshold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989989)

What a joke. Any research receiving tax dollars should have any and all research associated with it available to the public. Don't want to make your research public, then don't take tax money.

Just because something is paid for with public money doesn't mean the public is entitled to it.

Re:$100m threshold? (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#42991249)

Then they shouldn't receive funds paid for in taxes, simple as that. If tax dollars go towards it, it should benefit the public. End of story.

Re:$100m threshold? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42992035)

Then they shouldn't receive funds paid for in taxes, simple as that. If tax dollars go towards it, it should benefit the public. End of story.

Read what he said, instead of putting your own spin on it.

he said:

Just because something is paid for with public money doesn't mean the public is entitled to it.

Lots of things are paid for by public money. Nuclear weapons, fighter jets, germ warfare samples, Gold in Fort Knox, Missile launching GO codes.
Clearly you are not entitled to any of that.

There are many fields of research which probably fall into the same area of risk, and must be kept confidential. Which is exactly why there are national security exemptions to Obama's new found openness.

Release Constraints (4, Insightful)

jasnw (1913892) | about a year ago | (#42989483)

The second article notes that agencies can withhold papers that for protection of economic or national security. While this limitation might be reasonable if the order covers all Government-sponsored research, it only covers that research which has been published. If by "published" the order means "published in a public-domain journal" and the aim is to simply bring Government-sponsored research out from behind journal paywalls, then the research had already been screened by the funding agency to make sure nothing that needed such protection was released. So, any "bad guys" would already have access to the information simply by having a subscription to the journals in question. Thus, this is, or should be, a non-issue. If "published" includes reports submitted to the Government as part of contract requirements (status and final reports), that could be more problematic as these are not all generally releaseable. However, I think what's being addressed here is the issue of bringing research out from behind paywalls, something that should not have any problems meeting "protection of security" issues and has been a long time coming.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about a year ago | (#42989689)

National Security =/ Paywall. More dumb loopholes.

Re:Release Constraints (1)

guttentag (313541) | about a year ago | (#42989831)

If the research is behind a paywall, the Chinese are likely the only ones who have access to it anyway (and not because they're paying for it), which gives them a first-mover advantage over everyone else. Getting research out from behind a paywall simply levels the playing field.

Develop plans (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#42989501)

Like, in 5 years, finish your plan which calls for a 20 year rollout of the information.

This doesn't DO anything.

Re:Develop plans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989523)

They should pay me to do this. I could have it done in under a year (about a week programming, about a week, 50 weeks sipping mai tai in the tropics) for under 1 million.

"Politics is the art of the possible." (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#42989505)

It's not perfect, but it's a big step forward. The first year of a paper's "life" is important, to be sure, but it doesn't mean the time after that is unimportant--I just submitted a paper with citations going back to 1970! So far the NIH open access policy has worked out pretty well. And the simple fact is that without some embargo period, the journal lobby would have gone insane ... and unfortunately, they've got enough of a voice in Congress to ensure that any requirement for instant open access would be shot down hard. This move, OTOH, will create some grumbling, but any attempt to reverse it by law will meet the same political fate that previous attempts to reverse the NIH policy have done, probably dying in committee without ever even making it to a floor vote. Which is, you know, a good thing. This may be a mediocre result for science, but Obama's a politician, not a scientist, and it's very good politics indeed. To quote another cliche, "half a loaf is better than none."

If there's anything I'm worried about, it's the usual list of "security" exemptions. There's some research which, for security reasons, never gets published in any journals, of course. (I've heard rumors that NSA has its own list of "journals" that are only ever seen by NSA mathematicians--they run exactly like journals in the outside world, just with a very limited audience. I have no idea if this is true, but it's believable given the sheer amount of brainpower NSA employs.) That's understandable, if annoying. But if an article is published in a journal that's available to the world as a whole, then claiming that keeping it paywalled contributes to "national, homeland, and economic security" in any way is absurd.

Re:"Politics is the art of the possible." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990641)

No. It is not a huge step forward. It is a typical Obama slice. The impetus found in the community to make this research available threatens to ruin an existing business. This executive action disarms the effort to make the research available in general as this only addresses a limited percentage of research. After the movement has been disarmed the existing business will chip away at these illusory gains and we will be back where we started or worse. Health care is an example of how this has been done. This is just another false dawn from Obama. The devil is in the details. The exising conflict suggests the possibility of acedemics throwing off private control of research information entirely. Not all research is federally funded past 100 million. This action removes the earnestness of making information available without the archaic system of privately owned journals for some people and so weakens the movement. Very typical Obama behavior. He is not the friend he portrays himself to be.

Re:"Politics is the art of the possible." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42991047)

The movement is already planning its next phase: FARST to make it into law with only 6 months of embargo and full reuse rights, and similar legislation at state level with "California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act" and Illinois's "Open Access to Research Articles Act" proposals.

Why within a year and not immediately (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42989519)

Why within a year and not immediately? (just don't dare give me the "national security" BS! If it would be of "classified nature", then it wouldn't be published in a journal that provides the paper for anyone willing to pay 30 bucks or so).

Re:Why within a year and not immediately (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989653)

We'll get to 0 year eventually. Before, it was author life+90 years.

Re:Why within a year and not immediately (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#42989687)

To give the journal publishers time to make money. That's pretty much all there is to it. Like I said in my previous post on this story, it's not a perfect solution by any means, but given the strength of the journal lobby it's the best we're going to get.

Re:Why within a year and not immediately (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about a year ago | (#42990575)

The government evaluates research projects by the number of publications weighted by the "impact" of the journal. Many researchers (myself included) would be very happy to only publish in open journals, but if we did, our projects would appear less successful so our funding would suffer. The delay is probably an agreement with the major journals to give them exclusive rights. fro a while.

I don't like it, but it isn't easy to come up with a different way for funding agencies to evaluate R&D.

why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989527)

Seriously, why do people care about this? Suppose this is successful and all publicly funded research is published. Will outside of the research community read the publications?

Rather than concentrating on getting publicly funded research published, why not try to ensure that the federal government collects a share of any profits made off of said research. I wonder what portion of the NSF's budget could be recuperated.

Re:why? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42989561)

Will outside of the research community read the publications?

Even if it's hard for you to believe it, the answer is positive (and I'm not doing it for monetary profit either)

Re:why? (4, Insightful)

gander666 (723553) | about a year ago | (#42989583)

I care, because I often do deep literature searches. Unfortunately, this requires me to plow through 20 or 30 citations to understand the prior research. About 90% of those are behind paywalls. It typically costs $30 - $45 per paper to get access to the whole thing. And about 2/3rds the time it was worthless.

It is very easy to blow a couple hundred dollars to review tangential research that may have been relevant.

How many of these papers were written with government grants? Darned close to 100%. If you take public money for your research, then we should be able to access the paper without cost.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990489)

I'd extend this to patents on work funded with federal money, not that they should be open but that the feds should be treated as investors in the project and get a cut which would subsequently be earmarked to go back into the funding pool to be given to others

Re:why? (2)

Rutulian (171771) | about a year ago | (#42990919)

And why then can't you just go to your local university library to get access? I mean really, it's not that hard. I'm not a big fan of the publishing industry, but I've never had trouble getting access to an article I needed. If the library doesn't have a subscription, interlibrary loan works pretty well.

Re:why? (1)

Raenex (947668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993061)

And why then can't you just go to your local university library to get access? I mean really, it's not that hard.

Compared with clicking on a pdf from the comfort of your own home or office, the convenience and speed factor is big. The real question is why you think publicly funded research should be locked up behind a paywall in the first place.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993127)

Because there are a lot of obscure/specialized journals to which that local university does not subscribe? Sure anyone could get access to Nature or Science, but even as a graduate student at a private research university with a substantial endowment, I couldn't immediately access a number of references in papers I refereed. In addition, it would facilitate work by PhD's that are no longer at research universities - liberal arts colleges, regional state colleges, and community colleges lack the funds to afford a fraction of the journals found at a state flagship university.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42991091)

Then will you pay more for publication of research so that it can be free, or will you keep the budget the same and do less research because some of it has to be expended for publication? Publishing isn't a zero-cost operation. You're the taxpayer. Your call. But don't think you can just snap your fingers and make it all "free" at your convenience. The best you'll get is "already paid for by taxes".

Also, you're wasting a lot of money buying articles like that unless you live in the middle of nowhere. Go to the local university and most will allow on-site access for the public. It's part of the deal because they are also taxpayer-funded in part. Around here, I can walk into just about any university and look up whatever I want on the public workstations. All I have to do is bring my own USB flash drive to copy it. It also takes a bit of planning and organization, but it's 100x easier than the old days when everything was on paper and you had to take it off the shelves and photocopy it, so don't be whining if you can't get it to your home computer at complete convenience for free. Get off your butt and go to a location where it *is* "free" to access.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993129)

Around here, I can walk into just about any university and look up whatever I want on the public workstations.

Funny, the university I work at doesn't have all of the articles I want, so even though I do walk there every day, I can't look up whatever I want. And neither can many of my colleagues or old friends at other universities,as the subscriptions are pretty similar among all of them. Usually the fastest method of getting such journals is to track down someone I vaguely know that cited it once, and ask them for a photocopy or scan (they rarely seem to have the electronic version either).

And the days of photocopying hard copies in the library are not over, as some journals even restrict archives before a certain date, as the universities I've checked at had subscriptions that only give the most recent couple years.

Re:why? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992761)

You do "deep literature searches" and you can't go to a university library for some reason?

Re:why? (1)

gander666 (723553) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993021)

It is a full day event to go to the library, so no, I won't be able to go spend 2 days a week at the local university.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993077)

University libraries don't carry or have access to every journal. They will have all the major ones usually (assuming authentication servers aren't go down... or the one time a journal blocked the whole of the university I worked at a for a week for nebulous reasons they later backed out of), but there are a lot of journals out there, and some of the smaller ones are easily missed by libraries. While I can typically get papers for the latest and greatest research, I have a lot of trouble getting some of the more mundane papers that tabulate various material properties and spectroscopic data. It doesn't help that if you do chose to pay for a paper, you can find out it doesn't have the info you thought it would.

So even working literally down the hall from a library doesn't solve the problem for many fields.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989685)

It's taxpayer funded research. Taxpayers should have the possibility to read the results of the research. That many may elect not to is completely irrelevant. Besides, why do you care? If you don't want to read it, then just don't. The new policy won't force you to.

Re:why? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#42989731)

Don't be stupid. This research is funded by your tax dollars. The system before was that universities would do the research then "publish" the results by way of private publishing firms who then charge us to look at the papers. First, I'm pissed off that research *I* funded gets walled off from me. I don't know how many times I've searched for write-ups on code technology I thought might be useful to my efforts only to get cut off becuase the technology is question was behind a paywall. 2- YES, "outside the research community read the publications." 3- Seeing as how the federal government funds these efforts with mine (and presumably your) tax money it would be particularly galling to me to learn that they would simply transfer the profits of these papers from private firms to themselves. No, I prefer having full access to research that I payed for, thank you.

Re:why? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#42989733)

Will outside of the research community read the publications?

Yes. If you're genuinely interested in science, then relying on pop-sci reporting for your information will drastically mislead you. I don't know how many times I've seen a blurb about some science story on Slashdot, downloaded the original article (one of the advantages of being an academic at a large school that subscribes to most journals of interest) and seen that the summary was completely wrong.

And here's something you may not have thought of: those inside the research community don't always have access either. Like I said, I'm at a large school and have access to most journals I want to read. Occasionally even I run an abstract for something I think would be really useful, but can't get access to. Libraries at smaller schools often don't have nearly as large a subscription list, and of course independent researchers--yes, they do exist--are SOL unless they can pay for everything out of their own pockets. Given the number of articles you have to read in the preparation of a single paper these days, that gets very expensive very fast.

Re:why? (1)

Rutulian (171771) | about a year ago | (#42990989)

The problem is somebody has to pay for the publishing. It's not free. It costs money to hire editors, typesetters, to print paper copies, to run servers, to solicit peer reviewers and make editorial decisions, to maintain archives, to maintain searchable databases, to electronically archive older papers, to do artwork (yes, I know, but it's still part of it), to solicit news/reviews/perspective articles. So where is that money going to come from? Right now a chunck comes from the researchers themselves. The rest comes from the subscription fees. You can argue that more tax money should go to support publication, so that there will be more open access. But either way, money is going to come from public pockets. The cost of publishing has to be borne somewhere. Do you want more of the NIH/NSF/DOE/DARPA/etc budget to pay for publishing instead of research? Or do you want to raise taxes to support a publishing fund of some type? What's the solution? Because I see a lot of griping, but no real solutions.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42991309)

Most of the difficult work is done by volunteers. Don't want it public? Don't accept tax money.

Re:why? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#42991449)

All publishing has costs, but those costs are by no means fixed, and neither are the prices. In general, traditional publishers have much higher profit margins than OA publishers do (note the "in general"--you can always find a specific OA publisher that's more profitable than a specific publisher, but I'm talking about trends) and while I don't claim by any means that all academic publishing should be non-profit, I also don't believe that universities and funding agencies should pay any more than necessary to enrich those who want to sit back and collect money for other people's hard work. And electronic-only publishers, or publishers which primarily publish online and offer bound yearly volumes to those who want to pay for them, have signficantly lower costs than paper publishers. So anything that encourages authors to look toward OA and/or electronic publication is a good thing, IMO.

From the other side, for a given cost, there's the question of what you get for a particular amount of money. The OA-after-embargo policies of NIH, MRC, HHMI, and Wellcome Trust have added value to traditional journal publication. There's no journal I know of that says, "We'll publish your article for free, unless you're funded by an agency which requires OA after six months or a year, in which case you have to pay a publication fee." (I'm not saying there aren't any that do this, just that I haven't run into them.) Some of them offer instant OA for a fee comparable to those charged by OA publishers, which is reasonable enough, but you can choose not to pay that fee and your work will still be generally available after the embargo. This makes the research more useful without adding to the cost.

And really, I have no problem with funding agencies paying for publication as well as research, because "publication vs. resarch" is a false dichotomy--publication is part of research; if you don't publish your results you might as well never have done the research at all.

Re:why? (1)

spike hay (534165) | about a year ago | (#42990429)

Even at my large research university I still can't get access to a huge number of journals. My advisor, for example, literally does not have online journal access to some papers he has wrote.

Does what it says on the tin. (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about a year ago | (#42989535)

Exactly what the President promised us in his memorandum titled "Transparency and Open Government ".

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment [whitehouse.gov]

Re:Does what it says on the tin. (0)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#42989747)

Intertestingly this admin has been the murkiest and most expensive yet. War is peace, I guess.

Re:Does what it says on the tin. (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993255)

Yes well, the most interesting paragraph is the last one:

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Combined with the use of "should" instead of "Shall" in all the directions to agencies means the directive is effective null.

slashdot should read their own site (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989721)

And open all comments. I'm tired of my anonymous comments going into a blackhole.

We've the right to stay anonymous.

What's next, requiring a Facebook account with teal name?

Handing out money left and right again? (1)

acoustix (123925) | about a year ago | (#42989723)

Nah, I'm sure it will work this time.

Data format (1)

LucidGuppy (767014) | about a year ago | (#42989841)

Researchers should post their data in sqlite files as well as flat text files. XML should be banned.

Re:Data format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990583)

Great .... convert my 100G dataset to a 10T dataset

Re:Data format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990825)

and be stuck with describing the data format, which changes on a per experiment basis, to layman. Then describe how to analyze the data, how the detectors work, etc .... to a layman. Hell .... half the people in the group don't understand how all this works and I've got to document and support it all to a layman? Sounds like a huge waste of time and, more importantly, time taken away from research. We're already overburdened with red tape as it is. After all, it's the science I want to communicate, not the specifics of my setup / code which can be very arbitrary and irrelevant to the ultimate goal. Plus, don't expect user-friendly code (typically undocumented fortran/C code written for a single/one-time purpose) to scan the data, which is written in such a way that requires multiple modifications+recompilations just to analyze one data set.

Re:Data format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990893)

the proper scientific approach consists of error bars and reproduce-ability (within error) from other groups. Instead, politicians and the public wants to cut corners by consolidating to one group and put the burden on that one group to share data with others to reproduce. However, this solves nothing because the systematic errors will be the same and reproduce-ability becomes meaningless ....

Re:Data format (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992787)

Awesome. Come into the lab and we'll do an MRI on you, gather some medical history, and publish it all. As a text file!

In response, everything will be classified SECRET! (1)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#42989939)

They'll just classify everything top secret and even less information will be released.

in doublespeak that means... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#42990375)

The Constitution is out the door, the American taxpayer is under assault from the CONgressMEN, the budget will never balance except by raising taxes, there will be no accountability from our "elected" officials, corporate immunity with impunity dictating government policy to the detriment of the governed. All of it reigns supreme, but hey, how about them Ravens?

more complicated than just a policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42990609)

Who is responsible for disseminating information?

Generally speaking, the government program managers and researchers both want to see more public access to research results. I've seen contract (grant) negotiations falter over who gets to be responsible for publishing information. Some universities are adamant that the government not take on that role. Those universities also built the modern publishing industry and rely on controlling access to equipment and training. If professors expect to assume ownership of government financed equipment (generally against the law, but waived in most cases), they'll probably not object to charging a small fee to cover the costs of curating their publications. From a cynical insider perspective, the open publishing movement looks a lot like universities trying to simply acquire the profits of the publishing industry.

Good now there going to change (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about a year ago | (#42990645)

Good now there going to change an outrageous amount for a copy of said Data. I files a police report and they want to charge me 15 bucks for a copy i didn't know paper cost so much lol

yay scientific wellfare (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#42990771)

spend your tax dollars developing it, and if its something useful its sold to suck the most profit out of your wallet by the now private company who developed it.

I like paying for stuff twice

Careful there (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#42991275)

This needs to be looked at carefully for any security issues.

As Firm As Thin Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42991379)

The most Machiavellian government on Earth !

This will never happen.

Department of Defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992443)

Does the Department of Defense count under this? I guess with sequestration, their R&D budget is under $100 million now, right?

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