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Researchers Pull Out of Talks With Publishers On Text-Mining

timothy posted about a year ago | from the scanning-scanning-scanning dept.

The Media 67

ananyo writes "Disagreement between scientists and publishers has grown on a thorny issue: how to make it easier for computer programs to extract facts and data from online research papers. On 22 May, researchers, librarians and others pulled out of European Commission talks on how to encourage the techniques, known as text mining and data mining. The withdrawal has effectively ended the contentious discussions, although a formal abandonment can be decided only after a commission review in July. Scientists have chafed for years at limitations on computer-aided research. They would like to use computer programs to crawl over thousands or millions of articles and other online research content, extracting data to build up databases or to pick out patterns such as associations between genes and diseases. But in many parts of the world, including Europe (though perhaps not in the U.S. — the situation is unclear), this sort of use currently requires permission from the content's copyright owner. Even if an institution has paid to access a journal, its academics do not necessarily have permission to mine the text."

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Computer aid-research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906167)

Text and data mining have a long term history in the media, back to 80s.
Some vids are available on Youtube. European Agencies are ahead of Us based ones :
Text mining [youtube.com]
Data mining

Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906191)

...professionals are starting to take notice.

The "we're just replacing menial labor, so now those people are freed up to do more valuable knowledge-driven work" argument doesn't work so well when it's the knowledge driven work itself that is being co-opted.

It's the researchers' work, their livelihood. That Google (replace with Big Data Corp. of your preference) can get very rich short-term by vacuuming up the mental effort of the planet and slapping ads onto it, does not mean it is a viable economic model for the rest of us.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906287)

And you have failed to notice that the researchers are all for this, which is why they pulled out when publishers weren't cooperating.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906409)

I referenced "professionals" as noticing on this, and advocated for the researchers based on my perspective.

Give the researchers a few years with the current trends, when it becomes clearer that if nobody associated with their work is getting paid for it, they won't be either.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43906607)

You've failed to read the summary and now the reply you were replying to. The researchers are the ones who want data mining, the publishers do not, at least not without being paid more money. Not for adding any value either, just for slightly modifying the copyright. On data that shouldn't be theirs.

Give the researchers a few years with the current trends, when it becomes clearer that if nobody associated with their work is getting paid for it, they won't be either.

The researchers are paid with grants, they're not paid directly through publishing. If I publish a paper in Nature, it gets included in text mining, and people cite it from the text mine, that benefits me EVEN if no one ever actually reads the paper. If zero people pay for access to my article, that doesn't matter to me. If a billion people pay $30 to see my article, that doesn't matter to me. It matters only to the publisher.

And data mining can't replace most researchers doing benchwork. Barring AI, data mining is not going to come up with brilliant theories or insights, and barring robots, data mining is not going to do benchwork.

Publishers have a lot to fear from this, not researchers.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906753)

You miss my point. Name "any source of income whatsoever for a researcher", "X".

"X" will cease to exist when all value accrues to the companies mining and distributing the data by the most efficient means possible, such as Google. If "X" is a company doing this that isn't Google, "X" will soon be absorbed by Google (due to economies of scale), and repeat premise. If "X" is a publisher, there is no incentive for them to provide whatever incentive they do provide to a given researcher--and that the researcher has an incentive, such as professional recognition, is a given. If "X" is a university or government agency providing funding or a grant, the economic process remains the same. Ultimately there is no reason for any value to accrue to any other entity, if the answer for Big Data Corp. is always "wait for somebody to provide content for free, or mine it, and slap an ad on it".

That's my point, as expressed. Frankly your evaluation of its correspondence with this particular case is of marginal interest to me. :p

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907441)

Google doesn't place ads on Scholar results. Publishers do not provide financial incentives to scientific authors. This isn't about any particular company acquiring free rights to scientific texts. This is about computer science and bioinformatics researchers in the text mining area acquiring rights to texts which they themselves (or the scientific community in general) have created in the past. Publishers do not create scientific texts.

An example of this type of text mining work is the detection of protein-protein interactions by looking for papers in which two proteins are mentioned together, perhaps near the words "binding" or "interacting." Of course, there are many more sophisticated strategies as well.

But your argument is that no one should be allowed to benefit from science if they plan on profiting from science, which is somewhat odd.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907787)

"This is about computer science and bioinformatics researchers in the text mining area acquiring rights to texts which they themselves (or the scientific community in general) have created in the past."

So, then, indulging going far afield of what my point was, we are now a mundane question of intellectual property specific to this case. As I've said, I am (attempting, anyway) making a much wider point than this case. You are framing it as "the researchers" getting the rights rather than "the publishers", for which all of the same arguments as have been advanced against what we're reframing my post as, still apply, such as "doesn't the taxpayer really own this". Don't really care who gets the rights, the researchers or the publishers, for the purposes of my statement. In the framework those purposes the value of the data is going to go -somewhere-, it's a mundane fight of self-interest on both sides, on the specific level everyone keeps redirecting my non-specific point to.

In the -wider- sense, the economic value of that text-mining will go somewhere. My argument is based on the supposition that ultimately it will go where it is most profitable, and to once again de-specify what I didn't intend to specify, that will likely be a company "like Google". In that respect, they will certainly be "publishers" as well, just, one may presume, the researchers are looking for a bigger piece of the pie, so to speak. The scenario where all these academic papers are text-mined, and the information and categorization results "go nowhere" or into a "social implications free zone" isn't really on the table.

That the researchers are looking for this, to my view, is simply underscoring the trend I was calling attention to. For -now-, these particular researchers may succeed in wrenching their research out of the hands of those "who provide no value", and create more value for themselves by providing to -another- "publisher" (such as... Google) at better immediate terms for these researchers. This doesn't alter the fact that this battle is being fought to benefit -someone-, and the long-term benefit is in the aggregation, since having little "islands of data" with their own forms of searchability makes little practical sense, and I reiterate that eventually all of that goes to Google or another member of a "data oligarchy".

It at -that- point that rest of my argument takes on stronger effect (but it is certainly well-along across-the-board), that we have a "race to the bottom" of the researchers (and every other knowledge-based professional) competing with (ad-based) "free". While short-term, this battle may be seen in the researchers' best interest, I think that becomes much more dubious long-term. Perhaps the current publishers can be seen as getting "too good of a deal". Well, dear researcher, negotiate for a fair level of direct, or -indirect-, benefit from your new associate, or company, or software system, who is rapidly moving toward getting a net of nothing (-insofar as- it's providing the actual work to provide the information), from which nothing you can negotiate what you feel is an appropriate percentage.

Which brings us to...

"But your argument is that no one should be allowed to benefit from science if they plan on profiting from science, which is somewhat odd."

No. My argument is that the benefit of science will accrue increasingly away from the scientists, and doctors, and technical professionals, and toward the owners of Big Data corporations. In conjunction with that, the argument that whatever profit or benefit is deemed appropriate that a researcher should receive, the "zero" which the trends are moving them toward is not survivable. That survival being a precondition to doing any further science.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43907517)

Let X = grants from the government. Plugging that into your text

Grants will cease to exist when all value accrues to the companies mining and distributing the data by the most efficient means possible, such as Google... If X is a university or government agency providing funding or a grant, the economic process remains the same. Ultimately there is no reason for any value to accrue to any other entity, if the answer for Big Data Corp. is always "wait for somebody to provide content for free, or mine it, and slap an ad on it".

That doesn't make any sense. The government is not looking for a direct return on the grant, particularly not in the form of publication income. The incentive for the government agency to provide the grants is still there: to advance science. If it ends up open access, published by elsevier or others, or packaged into google's data, the research is still being done.

That's my point, as expressed. Frankly your evaluation of its correspondence with this particular case is of marginal interest to me. :p

So you're just interested in spouting general economic principles and ignoring whether or not they apply to the topic of conversation? Because in this case, it doesn't. What you're suggesting is nonsense, but you don't care to hear that it's nonsense? Well then you'll never learn.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907841)

To respond in brief, because the more I respond the more muddled the restatements of my original post's point (yes, I get to decide what points I wish to make) become...

The idea that the government need not return value from investment, per the perceptions of the public based on their expectations of private industry, is fiction.

"X" applies to the government as well. The economic rabbit-hole can be made very big and torturous, but that will only make the economic force directing toward my suggested outcome stronger.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43908171)

The idea that the government need not return value from investment, per the perceptions of the public based on their expectations of private industry, is fiction.

Which is why I never suggested anything of the sort. To quote myself "The incentive for the government agency to provide the grants is still there: to advance science."

The government still gets their return on investment, even if google mines the data: the science is done. Whether the results appear only in Elsevier or whether they're included in a larger data set, the government and scientists get value out of the grant process. Only Elsevier and other publishers are hurt, which is why they're the only ones opposed to it.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908307)

"The incentive for the government agency to provide the grants is still there: to advance science."

Then I think this is the crux of our distinction in perspective. I submit there is, in fact, no institution on Earth that is providing anything "to advance science" in the abstract, without a practical or political benefit--including researchers, who have the rather non-abstract need to eat. In that context, established Big Data firms can ultimately offer the nearest data -aggregators- (not the creators) more than any institution, and certainly more than any individual, "researcher" or otherwise. At that point, we have the broad "race to the bottom" effect of the "next researchers" competing a) with what is already available free and is "good enough", and b) competing with The Other Guys who will give the top-level aggregators the same research "for free" if one waits long enough, and a Google has no problem with waiting long enough.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43908701)

That doesn't make any sense, because you're still refusing to give any examples.

The NIH has an interest in finding a cure for cancer. They give money to researchers to add chemicals to cells and look at them under the microscope. Google repackaging published papers is not going to compete with that.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910593)

The NIH has an interest in finding a cure for cancer. They have a budget of $20 million to spend. Company A hires lots and lots of top-notch researchers to do the work for their proposal, spends $5 million on them, still turns a profit on their bid after paying all these researchers. Company B hires one research guy as a figurehead, waits 2 years for the exact same research to be done in a unrelated biology research project in academia, pays $100 for the data-mined results, pulls in $9 million profit direct to the shareholder's and executives bottom line. Out of generosity they kick back $1 million on PAC money to the politicians supportive of the clear "health care research efficiency benefits" they've provided and who also conveniently control future funding to the NIH.

Next year, the grant is going down to $5 million, Company A is going out of business, or both.

The actual scenario may vary in particulars. There's no reason for the overall system to vary in the trend applying to all knowledge-driven enterprises and individuals. Economic gain is decoupled from investment of money, time, or effort.

For further examples, just look most anywhere in the U.S. The value science provides becomes increasingly accumulated by a narrower and narrower subset of the population, leaving a growing expanse of the unemployable whose skills aren't sufficiently differentiable, at least to CEO's, than hiring a new graduate at bottom dollar and plugging them into Google. The wider social problem is that this process has no natural reason for this process to have a limit--lawyers are already being replaced by case-law scanners (JuriStat), doctors' diagnoses by expert systems (IBM's Watson as the latest big-name entry), pharmaceutical research by brute-force calculation (Folding@home). One might think "my knowledge work is too advanced for that". No, no it isn't. And back to my original point, we're quite used to yelling "buggy whips" and getting back on the treadmill, but when the process encompasses the majority of all mental work, we have a much different and more problematic social dilemma.

That tech is simply requiring less people to do the same scale of work, and thus we have billion dollar valuation companies with less than 20 employees (Instagram), accrual of massive multipliers of the "average" worker's value to corporate executives (take your pick of examples), and whole technology industries falling to wherever the cheapest labor combined with cheap data can be found, i.e. China. Examples abound everywhere.

I'm not a Luddite, and have no problem with the advancement of science and technology in general terms. However, I do think the scale of this process "Big Data" presents us with is a sea-change that will inevitably require fundamental change in how we think of science and knowledge in relation to business, money, and potential social benefits.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913857)

Next year, the grant is going down to $5 million, Company A is going out of business, or both.

Wrong. Company A is going to patent the results. Company B cannot patent the results because they explicitly got them from published data. So which company is going to be out of business next year?

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43914965)

The NIH has an interest in finding a cure for cancer. They have a budget of $20 million to spend. Company A hires lots and lots of top-notch researchers to do the work for their proposal, spends $5 million on them, still turns a profit on their bid after paying all these researchers. Company B hires one research guy as a figurehead, waits 2 years for the exact same research to be done in a unrelated biology research project in academia, pays $100 for the data-mined results, pulls in $9 million profit direct to the shareholder's and executives bottom line. Out of generosity they kick back $1 million on PAC money to the politicians supportive of the clear "health care research efficiency benefits" they've provided and who also conveniently control future funding to the NIH. Next year, the grant is going down to $5 million, Company A is going out of business, or both.

Two things, one, grants from the NIH are judged by scientists in the field. Currently, the process can distinguish between company A doing actual research and company B rehashing research quite well.

Two, Company B can already get company A's results. They publish the results. Company B could already steal A's results and rehash them. Yet we don't see the problem you suggest.

For further examples, just look most anywhere in the U.S. The value science provides becomes increasingly accumulated by a narrower and narrower subset of the population, leaving a growing expanse of the unemployable whose skills aren't sufficiently differentiable, at least to CEO's, than hiring a new graduate at bottom dollar and plugging them into Google.

You're still making a general statement and insisting it applies to this specific area when it clearly doesn't. Data mining does not make lab work redundant. Neither the NIH nor any CEO worth considering will say "Hey, why pay a million dollars to screen novel drugs that can fight cancer when we could spend five dollars to do a google search for it." Because that's nonsense.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907277)

It seems to be that the publishers who publish the articles the researchers create are shouting 'mine', but the researchers who create the content are shouting 'MINE!' Certainly programs that can use optical character recognition to identify letters and turn letters into text are getting better at what they do. Context sensitive language languages (non-computer, spoken languages) can pose more challenges, but can also provide different methods of interpreting what is written. The publishers are not creating the content, the articles are created by the researchers. So when the publishers shout "mine", its not really theirs.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906377)

I think you've got the wrong end of the stick.
It's the researchers who want the text-mining capability.
The publishers, who add no value whatsoever, are standing in the way.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (3, Insightful)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about a year ago | (#43906459)

Name a journal that has paid a researcher to publish a paper. I'll tell you, there isn't one, researchers have to pay a "submission fee" to have their paper even considered if accepted copyright is often deferred to the journal, then they have to subscribe to the journal to read it. Infact the only thing the actual publisher pays for in this whole mess is the paper and ink to print the thing. I'm going to guess this is just another nail in the coffin of traditional academic journals as the researchers start taking more of their papers elsewhere for publishing.

Re:Now that it's moving up the cognitive chain... (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907493)

It's definitely another point against subscription-fee journals (the "traditional" label is ambiguous; are open-access journals with standard review structures "traditional?").

That aside, I want to clarify: subscription-fee journals do not charge a submission fee, although they often charge for extra pages or color figures. The price then is signing over copyright on your work. In contrast, the open-access journals do charge a (quite large) submission fee. PLoS One for example charges $1,350. The OA journal then lets you keep copyright while licensing under Creative Commons or similar.

Well, this is simple. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906219)

Buy the content you want to index, put in in a database and search it at your leisure.
What? You want it for free? Get a life.

Re:Well, this is simple. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906321)

The researchers are protesting that they are not being allowed to mine the content that they have already paid to get. They are not arguing that the content should be available for free.

Re:Well, this is simple. (0)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#43906329)

Many US universities already subscribe to services that do exactly this - usually through the school's library.

RTFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906339)

Even if an institution has paid to access a journal, its academics do not necessarily have permission to mine the text.

Re:RTFS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906619)

I guess the GP is proposing that the institutions should pay further sums of money to the publishers to buy this new privilege.

In my view the researchers should man the fuck up and start data mining without permission. I'd love to see the publishers trying to sue, say, Cancer Research UK. The public at large would begin to understand the rottenness at the heart of big copyright.

Re:Well, this is simple. (4, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#43906341)

Translation: Invent the wheel many many times! Don't you DARE share the data on wheels with others without first getting permission to replicate data from the spoke makers, and rim makers!

Fuck off AC. Look at the internet as a model on how unfettered data proliferation prevents biases from dominating information use. (What's that barbara striesand? That pictue of your beach house is STILL on the internet? Fancy that!) Allowing researchers to share and vet each of these databases you want them to all make independently is EXACTLY how this technology should be used, BECAUSE it prevents usedful data from being hushed up, or forgotten, and gives that data its due. The scientists that created the data want the data shared. The scientists that ewant the data, want it shared.

The only group that does NOT want the data shared, is the publishing industry, because if the data leaves their grimy little fingers, they can't charge rent.

That's the real issue here.

Re:Well, this is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906365)

Buy the content you want to index, put in in a database and search it at your leisure.
What? You want it for free? Get a life.

From the summary: "Even if an institution has paid to access a journal, its academics do not necessarily have permission to mine the text."

Re:Well, this is simple. (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43906503)

Knowledge mining does not extract content. Knowledge mining extracts facts. Text mining analyzes and classifies documents, clusters them into groups, and tries to support further knowledge mining. About the only activity that I can think of that could qualify as potentially violating copyright is summarizing. Content may be protected by copyright laws, but the facts can't, and your comment isn't therefore very relevant. I really wonder how the publishers argue that copyright applies to this. Where I live (.cz), copyright not only explicitly applies to making copies; in fact, I believe there's a clause explicitly allowing using "using the work in scientific research", if the use of parts of the text "doesn't exceed the extent necessary for the intended goal". One could argue that mining facts, entities, and their relationships qualifies under this, and that it expressly doesn't qualify as making copies of a work perceived as an authored text.

Re:Well, this is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907265)

I really wonder how the publishers argue that copyright applies to this.

You have to enter into a contract to be given access, the terms of that contract certainly prohibit downloading the entire database. Just ask Aaron Swartz if he understands that yet.

Re:Well, this is simple. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43908739)

You have to enter into a contract to be given access, the terms of that contract certainly prohibit downloading the entire database. Just ask Aaron Swartz if he understands that yet.

It's my understanding that for me as a physical person, the law of my country voids any such contract clauses in the copyright law explicitly - meaning that doing so *could* be construed as violating terms of contract but it would never pass as copyright infringement (and yes, there's been a ruling of our Supreme Court on that, so there's hardly any wiggle room here).

Re:Well, this is simple. (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907545)

You are ignorant of how scientific publishing works. The publishers are the free loaders. Scientists did the research, wrote the papers, edited and peer reviewed them on a volunteer basis and, indeed, typeset the final print versions.

The large scientific publishers are parasites who abuse their oligopoly powers to extract rents on the labor of the scientist.

bi2nat3h (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906289)

Was in the tea I own lube, beverage,

Sad ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43906323)

The people who do the science and write the papers produce the content. Yet somehow the publisher controls how it gets used thereafter.

Everyone is so damned beholden to copyright that it more or less constrains how you do anything.

And they wonder why people are pushing for open access -- it's time to cut the buggy whip makers out of the equation.

If you took public money to do this, it should be open. If you want it to be locked down and proprietary, don't publish.

Re:Sad ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906493)

It's a free market. Why don't they just stop publishing their papers with publishers that blanket pay-wall content? It's the institutions fault for contracting shitty publishers.

Re:Sad ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906767)

Do journals require exclusive publishing rights? it seems to me that an opportunity exists for someone to create a free-to-submit-for-pre-authorised-sources database for expressly this purpose. If a researcher submits a paper to a journal, they could also submit it to *the database* for mining.

Re:Sad ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907113)

All the IEEE journals and conferences require exclusive publishing rights; usually in the form of a transfer of copyright to the publisher as part of the submission process. Elsevier requires this as well.

Re:Sad ... (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907651)

Yes, however these rights do not apply to your preprints or revisions produced after publications, which is why so many of the the self-archived ("green" open-access) PDFs available on the web are the manuscripts rather than journal PDFs.

Re:Sad ... (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | about a year ago | (#43908779)

Some publishers do require exclusivity. Some do not. There is a free-to-submit equivalent. Ironically, it's licence is also a bit restrictive for this sort of thing.

Basically, we got ourselves tied up here. It all made sense 20 years ago. Now it doesn't. The social incentives to give away our value for free are still there.
And the publishers want to keep this also. Trying to make understand the situation now is pointless; you have to look at the history.

Hopefully, the future will be better than the present.

Re:Sad ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906771)

It's a free market.

No it isn't. When your livelihood requires X papers published to be in a small set of predetermined circulars, you cannot simply stick a pdf on cesspits like arXiv.org.

Re:Sad ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907155)

Copyright requires government force and thus by definition means it's not a free market. Unless you count piracy and rent-seeking behavior as being part of the free market...

Re:Sad ... (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907635)

There are several reasons.
1) Prestige of specific journals
2) Former need for actual printing presses, etc.
3) Subscription-fee journals (i.e. with paywalls) do not charge submission fees (cost to publish is loss of copyright)
4) Open-access journals charge expensive submission fees ($1,350 for PLoS One)

Finally, institutions do not contract publishers to publish scientific content. Individual scientists submit their work to journals of their choosing, signing over copyright if necessary and paying any publication fees out of their particular funding sources.

and 5) (2)

aussersterne (212916) | about a year ago | (#43907721)

academic culture and the academic generation gap.

Hiring and tenure still involve large percentages of faculty that "came up" under the old system, and don't see the problem (don't have time to see the problem) that has emerged in academic publishing culture over the last couple of decades in particular. They don't see work published outside of the big name journals/publishers as "serious" or "academic" for the moment. So young academics wanting to build a career continue to support them and publish in them, as a pragmatic career-building move.

But young academics by and large (at least in my wing of the social sciences) are incredibly jaded about academic publishing and are absolutely willing to shift the culture away from publishing with big journal mills—they just have to get hired, get tenure, and become "the academics of the world" first. Then, as they begin to be the ones making the hiring and tenure decisions, you can bet that as they consider the next crop of youngsters, they won't place the same premium on Springer, Elsevier, et. al. journals.

The publishing mills are not long for the world, and they know it, which is why they're all trying to expand/reshape their product lines, business models, etc. away from straight print content licensing and toward academic SaaS and other similar offerings.

Re:and 5) (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907823)

I don't know anyone, students and professors alike, who doesn't share this attitude about the big scientific publishers (at least in biology and computer science).

The problem in my opinion is that the previous generation just isn't willing to act on these convictions. Instead of going to good (high impact) OA journals like BMC, PLoS, etc., which costs money, they want to sign over their copyrights and get it over with, not realizing that this is itself a very high cost.

Re:Sad ... (4, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | about a year ago | (#43906547)

Everyone is so damned beholden to copyright that it more or less constrains how you do anything.

This is not just a failure of copyright, this is an institutional failure where the "publisher" gets to control the entire scientific debate and profit on all ingress and egress of data. Copyright is just the weapon the publisher is brandishing to force even more people to pay them.

How is this even tenable long-term? What curation do these journals provide? Why are they regarded as anything more than leeches?

Re:Sad ... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43907089)

It damages the literature beyond access to papers as well, since publishers sometimes use copyright to interfere with papers themselves. I was forced to remove a screenshot from one paper because the publisher's official position on fair-use was extremely narrow and would not allow screenshots. Perhaps this is simply due to risk-aversion: it's easier to just restrict fair-use than worry about how close to the line to get. But a more cynical person might suspect it's in the publisher's own interests to push generally anti-fair-use positions.

Film-studies scholars have been struggling with this for years: including a still image from a film in a discussion of it is obviously fair-use, but a surprising number of publishers disagree.

Re:Sad ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43907365)

Perhaps this is simply due to risk-aversion: it's easier to just restrict fair-use than worry about how close to the line to get.

No, it's greed, pure and simple. Since the publishers and the copyright lobby don't believe in fair use, their position pretty much starts from there.

These are the people who want photocopiers outlawed because someone could be copying their stuff, and people who fight that people have right of first sale on books.

Pretty much uniformly, these guys all believe there shouldn't be fair use, because in their minds, it's not fair to them, and what we want doesn't matter.

If they had their way, we would have no fair use, and every time a physical copy of a book is read, they should get paid. These are the same people who equate libraries with theft.

In other words, buggy whip makers who think they should control everything.

Re:Sad ... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43906567)

If you want it to be locked down and proprietary, don't publish.

While I agree with you mostly, one of the biggest problems they have (especially in medicine) is unpublished papers.
Watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_what_doctors_don_t_know_about_the_drugs_they_prescribe.html [ted.com]
Over 100,000 people were killed in the United States due to 1 paper that went unpublished.

Re:Sad ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43906679)

Over 100,000 people were killed in the United States due to 1 paper that went unpublished.

Yup, the pharma companies have been well known to hide the parts that don't support their claims, and they've also been known to latch onto secondary effects if it doesn't pan out for the original intent.

I've never understood how they can skip the step where they provide all of the data for an independent body to review.

We know they're in it just for profit, and they've demonstrated they'll take short cuts (or outright lie) when it suits them.

Re:Sad ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908401)

Lol the pharma companies... No, all of medical science is seriously ill right now, academia is probably worse.

Re:Sad ... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43906685)

It's annoying, but it's rapidly changing. A decade ago, I'm not sure open-access was a thing most researchers had ever heard of. Today, any biomedical research funded by the NIH has to be open access within a year of publication. [nih.gov] I agree, it's time to cut the buggy whip makers out, but realize that is in fact happening right now.

Re:Sad ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906809)

Evil profits again? For shame!

Re:Sad ... (2)

dwsobw (2723483) | about a year ago | (#43908593)

But there is a simple solution. At my Institute (in Germany), we simply do not publish at journals and conference where we have to give publishers the exclusive rights to the paper. Either they accept that we do remove that clause from the forms we have to sign, or we do not publish with them. It is fairly simple. Even Springer seems to go along most of the time.

Re:Sad ... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43910339)

"Everyone is so damned beholden to copyright that it more or less constrains how you do anything."

No, you are confused. The issue here is about monopoly and market abuse, not Copyright.

Nobody says you have to sign your copyright over to a publisher. There's no law to that effect. It's just that a few publishers have locked up the market. That's monopoly (or oligopoly, if you want to get technical). It's not a matter of copyright, because the researcher can sell to whoever he wants to, or not at all. It's not a matter of capitalism, because monopoly is not part of a free market.

Stop blaming the things, and start blaming the people. That should be a mantra.

Since when did copyright apply to so much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906481)

I thought copyright only concerned the rights to distribute and make copies of an original work. Since when did "distribution" and "making copies" get extended to what you can do with what you have obtained legally?

Re:Since when did copyright apply to so much? (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907665)

In order to have something "distributed" you have to sign a "license."

fuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906563)

Fuck Corporations
Fuck "Intellectual Property"

Pulling out (4, Funny)

ArtemaOne (1300025) | about a year ago | (#43906861)

Pulling out is not an effective method of prevention.

Re:Pulling out (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43907485)

This joke may not be well understood by many of the people who frequent this website.

Half of them will argue by what you mean by "prevention" as you've failed to identify what you are preventing.

The other half will wonder what consititutes a 'pulling out' and will argue about the fine details involved.

A small subset will argue that Bush didn't pull out, so why should Obama.

Another small subset will argue that we need to pull Obama out because he isn't an american.

An odd subset will argue that the last time they tried this method their sister had problems anyway.

And finally, the last few basement dwellers will wonder what the heck you're talking about, look it up on wikipedia, giggle, and go back to their ponies and vasaline.

Why bother asking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43906983)

You're scientists. Just do it. Facts are facts. They aren't subject to extortion schemes like copyright.

Don't ask publishers ahead of time. It will put bad ideas in their head. Conduct your research, then let them prove that that you need their permission later. Not the other way around.

Re:Why bother asking? (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907697)

I don't think it's exactly feasible to download millions of articles by hand. You can scrape, like Aaron Schwartz did, but that doesn't seem like a great idea these days.

I agree with the sentiment, but we're talking about vast databases held internally by these publishers, not available information encumbered with a little fine print.

Aaron Swartz did a routine thing, journals knew it (2)

hyperfl0w (2429120) | about a year ago | (#43907601)

As an NLP Bioinformatics guy, I believe the real crime Aaron Swartz committed was being in the news.

He isn't the first to have that dataset and he wont be the last.
We write papers using massive NLP scans of publications rather routinely.

Most of the time, the papers are downloaded from PubMed (public funded) so they can't even complain about bandwidth costs, etc.

For anyone who didn't know already, most subscription Publishers don't **DO** anything.
They are only slightly better than patent trolls, and in some cases, worse.

Use Bit Torrent for distribution (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43907747)

One of the concerns (read: lame excuses) given by the publisher side of this is fear that large scale downloads will cripple their web servers. Private torrent trackers for scientific work is the obvious solution. With university and institutional seeds, this solution would be efficient, equitable and fast.

Re:Use Bit Torrent for distribution (1)

KPU (118762) | about a year ago | (#43908385)

Torrents die if nobody seeds them. If I've got a few gigabytes of data that only ten people want, possibly years apart, torrents won't work.

Re:Use Bit Torrent for distribution (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43909145)

I think in this scenario, institutional users of the private tracker would be required to seed for continued access. And you only need a few institutional seeders. When you torrent Ubuntu DVDs, for example, it's not fast because so many people are seeding but because Canonical is.

How hard is this? (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year ago | (#43908269)

Come on. The description of research methods , procedures, tests and results scientific papers, exists for the betterment of humankind, not to make people who own it rich. Get rich by Making Stuff, not exerting a monopolist's control on Knowledge.

How hard is this? All research and results conducted by higher ed should be available for free and the costs rolled into the tax base.

This is as basic as it gets. Roads bridges security and advances in knowledge.

It is done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910309)

It is done look at dunblincore, OAI, and duraspace for opensource solutions

Abuse of language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911861)

So the discussion concerns:

Publishers who block Content

Data miners doing research.

At least that's clear then.

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