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Who Owns Science?

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the wants-to-be-free dept.

The Media 308

immerrath writes "The New York Times has an article [Sorry, tomorrow's article, no Google link yet] on a movement that is rapidly gaining support in the scientific community: the Public Library of Science(PLoS). The founders, Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus, Stanford biologist Pat Brown and Berkeley Lab scientist Michael Eisen, argue that scientific literature cannot be privately controlled or owned by the publishers of scientific journals, and must instead be available in public archives freely accessible by anyone and everyone. This has very important implications for the fundamental principle that Science must transcend all economic, national and other barriers. For a while now, PLoS has been trying to get scientific journals to release the rights to scientific papers; many major journals have not complied -- in response, PLoS is starting PLoS-standard-compliant journals (for which they received a $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), to demonstrate the validity of the idea and persuade academic publishers to adopt the free access model. They even have a GPL-like open access Licence, and their journals have some very prominent scientists on the editorial board. Here is the text of an earlier Newsweek article about PLoS, and here is a Nature Public Debate explaining the issues. Michael Eisen received the 2002 Benjamin Franklin award for his work on PLoS. Don't forget to sign the PLoS open letter!"

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a great slipery slope (-1, Redundant)

opencity (582224) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903707)

Information wants to be free

Re:a great slipery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903888)

Bah!
Don't anthropomorphize information, it doesn't like it!!

IN SOVIET RUSSIA was: Re:a great slipery slope (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903928)

Information wants to free YOU!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA was: Re:a great slipery slope (2, Funny)

blue trane (110704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904009)

freedom wants to be information

Re:a great slipery slope (1, Funny)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903993)

All your science are belong to us.

-Corporate Robber Barons

Re:a great slipery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904046)

Information wants to be free

Tell that to the NYTimes. Registration-required is not "free" imo, as they ask for personal information.

Re:a great slipery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904053)

In Soviet Russia, required registers YOU!

All one has to do is buy the damn journal. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904062)

I don't know what the mystery is. No one is preventing anyone from buying a copy. And if you can't buy one, then you really don't need it anyway.

Printing and serving electronic versions costs money. These people obviously must be DemocRATS, who think that money just grows on trees for everyone.

FIRST!!!!!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903713)

Woohoo!!!! Suck it!

woo hoo! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903717)

woo hoo!

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903722)

Uh...the first post engine suxors! Humph.

Google link? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903728)

New Premise in Science: Get the Word Out Quickly, Online
By AMY HARMON

A group of prominent scientists is mounting an electronic challenge to the leading scientific journals, accusing them of holding back the progress of science by restricting online access to their articles so they can reap higher profits.

Supported by a $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the scientists say that this week they will announce the creation of two peer-reviewed online journals on biology and medicine, with the goal of cornering the best scientific papers and immediately depositing them in the public domain.
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By providing a highly visible alternative to what they view as an outmoded system of distributing information, the founders hope science itself will be transformed. The two journals are the first of what they envision as a vast electronic library in which no one has to pay dues or seek permission to read, copy or use the collective product of the world's academic research.

"The written record is the lifeblood of science," said Dr. Harold E. Varmus, a Nobel laureate in medicine who is serving as the chairman of the new nonprofit publisher. "Our ability to build on the old to discover the new is all based on the way we disseminate our results."

By contrast, established journals like Science and Nature charge steep annual subscription fees and bar access to their online editions to nonsubscribers, although Science recently began providing free electronic access to articles a year after publication.

The new publishing venture, Public Library of Science, is an outgrowth of several years of friction between scientists and the journals over who should control access to scientific literature in the electronic age. For most scientists, who typically assign their copyright to the journals for no compensation, the main goal is to distribute their work as widely as possible.

Academic publishers argue that if they made the articles more widely available they would lose the subscription revenue they need to ensure the quality of the editorial process. Far from holding back science, they say, the journals have played a crucial role in its advancement as a trusted repository of significant discovery.

"We have very high standards, and it is somewhat costly," said Dr. Donald Kennedy, the editor of Science. "We're dealing in a market whether we like it or not."

Science estimates that 800,000 people read the magazine electronically now, compared with 140,000 readers of the print version. Given the number of downloads at universities like Harvard and Stanford, which buy site licenses for about $5,000 a year, the magazine says people are reading articles for only a few cents each.

In many cases even such small per-article charges to access a digital database can make for substantial income. The Dutch-British conglomerate Reed Elsevier Group, the world's largest academic publisher, posted a 30 percent profit last year on its science publishing activities. Science took in $34 million last year on advertising alone.

But supporters of the Public Library of Science say the point is not how much money the journals make, but their monopoly control over literature that should belong to the public.

"We would be perfectly happy for them to have huge profit margins providing that in exchange for all this money we're giving them we got to own the literature and the literature did not belong to them," said Dr. Michael B. Eisen, a biologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, and a founder of the Public Library of Science.

When scientists relied on print-and-paper journals to distribute their work, the Library's supporters argue, it made sense to charge for access, since each copy represented an additional expense. But they say that at a time when the Internet has reduced distribution costs to almost zero, a system that grants journals exclusive rights over distribution is no longer necessary.

By publishing on the Internet and forgoing any profits, the new venture says it is now possible to maintain a high-quality journal without charging subscription fees.

Continued
1 | 2 | Next>>

Forum: Join a Discussion on Science in the News

Finding New Ways To See Science (August 6, 2002) $

Did This Man Just Rewrite Science? (June 11, 2002) $

Ideas & Trends; When Backyards Were Laboratories (May 19, 2002) $

A Man Who Would Shake Up Science; Physicist Says He's Explained The Way Nature Operates (May 11, 2002) $

Find more results for Science and Technology and Books and Literature .

Page 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903752)

New Premise in Science: Get the Word Out Quickly, Online

(Page 2 of 2)

Instead, the new journals hope institutions that finance research will come to regard publishing as part of the cost. The journals will initially ask most authors to pay about $1,500 per article, for exposure to a wider potential audience and a much faster turnaround time.

The library's founders agree that its success will depend largely on whether leading scholars are willing to forsake the certain status of publishing in the established journals to support the principle of science as a public resource. In a profession where publishing in a top journal is often crucial to success and grant money, that may be a difficult task.
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"I'd be happy to forswear publishing in any of those journals, but I'm not in a position where I need a job," said Dr. Marc Kirschner, chairman of the cell biology department at Harvard Medical School and a member of the electronic library's editorial board. "The difficulty will be getting over this hump from the point where people say, `Why should I risk it?' to where they don't see it as a risk."

In that regard, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute -- the nonprofit institute whose $11 billion endowment makes it a leading supporter of medical research -- has emerged as a powerful ally. Dr. Thomas R. Cech, the institute's president, has publicly endorsed the library's goals and promised to cover its investigators' extra costs of publishing in the new journals.

As for other researchers, "people will want to be associated with this because it is such a good deed," said another member of the library's editorial board, Dr. Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, editor of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Unfettered access to the literature, library supporters say, would eliminate unnecessary duplication and allow doctors in poor countries, scientists at budget-conscious institutions, high school students, cancer patients and anyone else who could not afford subscriptions to benefit from existing research and add to it.

Moreover, they say, the taxpayers, who spend nearly $40 billion a year on biomedical research, should not have to pay again -- or wait some unspecified period -- to be able to search for and see the results themselves.

But Derk Haank, chairman of Elsevier Science, whose 1,500 journals include Cell, says such criticism is misguided. Elsevier, he says, is offering broader access to its electronic databases to the institutions that want it for far less than the cost of subscribing to dozens of paper journals. "It sounds very sympathetic to say this should be available to the public," he said. "But this kind of material is only used by experts."

Still, in addition to making data available to more people sooner, the electronic library's founders argue that the research itself becomes more valuable when it is not walled off by copyrights and Balkanized in separate electronic databases. They envision the sprouting of a kind of cyber neural network, where all of scientific knowledge can be searched, sorted and grafted with a fluidity that will speed discovery.

Under the library's editorial policy, any data can be integrated into new work as long as the original author is credited appropriately. The model is inspired by GenBank, the central repository of DNA sequences whose open access policy has driven much of the progress in genomics and biotechnology of the last decade.

The library's roots can be traced to Dr. Patrick O. Brown's frustration at the barriers to literature he needed for research at his genetics laboratory at the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1998. "The information I wanted was information scientists had published with the goal of making it available to all their colleagues," he said. "And I couldn't get it readily because of the way the system was organized."

Dr. Varmus, then director of the National Institutes for Health, talked with Dr. Brown in January 1999 and decided to pay for a Web site that would provide free access to peer-reviewed scientific literature. PubMedCentral (www.pubmedcentral.gov) was opened the next year.

By a year later, however, only a handful of journals had decided to participate in the government archive. In an effort to whip up enthusiasm, Drs. Varmus, Brown and Eisen began circulating an open letter to the journals, asking them to place their articles in a free online database.

The petition quickly garnered 30,000 signers around the world, including several Nobel laureates, who promised to publish their work only in journals that complied with their demand. But almost none did.

That is when Dr. Varmus and his colleagues became convinced that they needed to raise money to start their own publication. After being rejected by several traditional science research foundations, the scientists found a sympathetic ear at the Silicon Valley foundation whose benefactor, Dr. Gordon E. Moore, was the co-founder of Intel Corporation.

"Scientists are a conservative bunch," said Dr. Edward Penhoet, the foundation's senior director for science. "In the short term they'll still be publishing in Cell and other places. But in the long term, I think this has the potential to dramatically facilitate science."

MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903807)

It's not like the NY Times servers are going to be slashdotted any time soon...

Redmond (-1, Offtopic)

IlluminatedOne (621945) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903729)

Doesn't Microsoft own science?

ahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904004)

you too funny, big funny man!

you make microsoft joke in completely non-microsoft-related topic!

too much funny!

Re:Redmond (1)

Dylan_t_p (630258) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904102)

microsoft took science for it's own use but....Acacia has a patent on a method for using science to do anything at all, so it's all worthless microsoft can't make any money off it

Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903735)

Me. I'm a 'merican.

Re:Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903754)

Hell yea, a good portion of the rest of the world isn't even interested in science. They're too busy blowing themselves up for superheros in the sky.

Re:Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903848)

Does GWB know about this? Could Connie Rice get us in on some of that action?

Re:Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903996)

ISR heros in the sky blow up YOU@!!

Science is open to everyone (2, Insightful)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903739)

Everyone has access to Nature. It is just waiting for someone to find out all its secrets.

But for those that do, it is important that they receive some sort of carrot to keep them motivated. If this means charging for academic journals, then perhaps that's the way to go about it.

Those that would steal their hard work because "Science is for everyone" doesn't quite grasp the concept of the reward system.

Re:Science is open to everyone (5, Funny)

mph (7675) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903796)

Everyone has access to Nature.
But if you want to subscribe, it'll set you back up to $159 a year.

Re:Science is open to everyone (3, Insightful)

Bicoid (631498) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904065)

Yes, if you want to subscribe. However, to read a paper of interest, you can just get off your lazy duff and go to a local library...if your public library doesn't have it, then check out the local university library. True, that's not plausible for everyone, but if it's important to you and you lack the money, it IS availible.

OT: .sig (3, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904091)

Blockquoth the poster's .sig:

If not all sentients are human, it stands to reason that not all humans are sentient either.

"If not all fruits are oranges, it stands to reason that not all oranges are fruits, either." Um, no... it exactly does not stand to reason.

Re:Science is open to everyone (5, Insightful)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903868)

Those that would steal their hard work because "Science is for everyone" doesn't quite grasp the concept of the reward system.


"Stealing" is not quite the word that I would use. Remember that every piece of science today is based upon someone elses past research. In order to develop and prove new theories, you have to "steal" from someone else. If you, as a researcher had NO information on widgits, how would you even start developing a theory? Most researchers would begin by finding out what everyone else thinks of Widgits and go from there.


This all reminds me of a quote I read in college (can't remember the person that created the quote). "Western Civilization is a footnote to Plato". This means Without Plato beginning political discourse, the western world would probably have developed in an entirely different manner. It's the same way in pure science. Without having someone to start, how do you develop your own theories?

Re:Science is open to everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903881)

Stealing, as in the sense of "Freeing" the writeups from the writers.

This is not about standing on the shoulders of giants, but about stripping them naked and making them put on a show for everyone.

Re:Science is open to everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904027)

I think it's about freeing the write-ups from the journals.

Re:Science is open to everyone (5, Insightful)

rodgerd (402) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904151)

It also shows a number of flaws with the theory:

1/ Plato hardly started the philosophies that much of Western thinking are based upon. You may recall that Plato studied under Cratylus and was heavily influenced by Socrates. And Cratylus studied under...

2/ Many of Plato's views would likely be considered pretty horrible by those of us working in many of the major Enlightenment streams of thought. Western Civilisation may owe debts to Plato, but the like of Adam Smith, J S Mill, Woolstoncroft, Bertrand Russell, William Morris, and sundry others play a much more immediate role in our day to day lives, in much the same way that Rutherford splitting the atom is more meaningful for people getting their electricity in the US than Newton's work.

Essentially, picking Plato is arbitary. And that's the problem with most notions of identifying the "great thinkers", especially in collaborative areas that build and change over time; things are all too often reduced to popularity/PR contests. Hell, how many people think Edison was a great inventor?

Re:Science is open to everyone (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903886)

Those that think material reward is necessary to motivate scientific research don't grasp the concept of exploration.

Do you think money motivated Newton? Einstein? Feynman?

Re:Science is open to everyone (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903932)

Money motivated Venter, Wolfram, and Ramanujan.

For every scientist that you think was ambivalent about money, there is another that thought money was a pretty important thing.

Re:Science is open to everyone (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904100)

Notice that neither Ventner nor Wolfram stayed in academia. It's hard to say about Ramanujan, since he died so young.

Re:Science is open to everyone (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903968)

The scientists who publish in the non-free journals don't get any money. The only carrot in publishing in the journals is the increase in reputation and job prospects for publishing in a top journal. The only people who profit from the journals are the publishers.

Re:Science is open to everyone (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904087)

Those that would steal their hard work because "Science is for everyone" doesn't quite grasp the concept of the reward system.

Someone doesn't understand the concept of the academic reward system, all right. Unfortunately, that person is you.

1) Scientists (and other academics) get their rewards (tenure, grants, etc.) by publishing material so that others can build on it, not by hoarding it or selling it for large amounts of money. That's how academia works.

2) Academics almost never get any money from journal articles. In fact, some journals CHARGE THE ACADEMIC FOR PRINTING THEM.

In the past, journals were expensive for a legitimate reason: printing a small press run (and let's face it, most academic journals have circulations measured in the hundreds or low thousands) resulted in a very high unit cost.

Now, with online publishing, there's no reason for this, yet the journal publishers are still charging exorbitant fees to their subscribers.

Academic publishing isn't anything like commercial fiction or non-fiction publishing, sorry. It's an entirely different business model.

If you have a vision of some guy doing neurobiology becoming the next Tom Clancy, you're just wrong.

Re:Science is open to everyone (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904120)

Well, if I can discover a fact for $1000, someone else might be able to discover it for $500. Someone else might discover it for $100, and finally someone else could do it for $0.50. Since it's just a piece of information we're talking about, I don't think we have to reward people all that much. We're not talking about some hot new song or movie, we're talking about repeatable facts.

Someone will discover the jewels nature has to offer.

Ignoring the fact that most scientists DON'T see much reward, of course. I remember one of my profs in EE telling us about his advancements in night-vision optics, and how he made his company millions and millions of dollars from his inventions and improvements. Someone in the class asked him how much of that he saw, he laughed and said "all I got was a plaque".

Re:Science is open to everyone (-1)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904133)

Sorry, but with all the time I have spent meditating and talking with my beautiful wife Kathy, we have come to the conclusion that it is God that is the revealer of all secrets. Only by his divine intervention can we ever hope to understand the wonderful awsomeness that is our universe and the science behind it.

Re:Science is open to everyone (1)

stand (126023) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904147)

it is important that they receive some sort of carrot to keep them motivated.

Oh come now...People who do science rarely do it for the money, now or throughout history. I don't think it an over-generalization to say that most scientists are motivated by, above all, personal curiosity, and perhaps a desire for peer recognition, very little else. There have always been better ways for intelligent people to earn big bucks.

Information tolls are a serious barrier to the advancement of science, especially for Third-World scientists. They serve mainly to enrich the publishers, not the researchers. The only really important thing they provide is the peer review process and that could conceviably be done by a body like PLoS.

Science (0)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903747)

Well, this isn't such an obvious answer to the title question. You could say that the slashdot 0wners 'own' science [slashdot.org] , since they are the ones who post the stuff there. However, the all work for OSDN [osdn.com] , who also 0wns the domain, i believe.
Or, you could just say Richard Feynman 0wns J00 because of his hair.

Re:Science (1)

GimmeFuel (589906) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904011)

Not a chance, Stephen Hawking's voicebox could waste Feynman's hair any day.

mad propz to Feynman's do! (1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904146)

That man had a righteous do only rivalled by that of Einstein [keirsey.com] .

I've got the Feynman "Think Different" poster in my office. Every day is a tribute to his fab locks.

The science part was cool, too.

I'm sure . . . (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903755)

I'm sure that in soviet russia, science owns you. What a frickin' surprise.

Re:I'm sure . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903797)

Now that was the best one I've seen so far.

Re:I'm sure . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903844)

In soviet russia, surprise fricks YOU!

nytimes google partner link (3, Informative)

mikecheng (3359) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903757)

google partner link to nytimes [nytimes.com]


Merkac Dot [apocryphillia.com] : 48210

Links to Google Cache(N.B. Not always cached.)

article [nytimes.com] cache [google.com] [Link not cached at time of posting]
Public Library of Science(PLoS) [publiclibr...cience.org] cache [google.com] [Cache link active]
Nobel [nobel.se] cache [google.com] [Cache link active]
Harold Varmus [accessexcellence.org] cache [google.com] [Cache link active]
Pat Brown [stanford.edu] cache [google.com] [Cache link active]
Michael Eisen [berkeley.edu] cache [google.com] [Cache link active]
journals [sciencemag.org] cache [google.com] [Cache link active]
journals [publiclibr...cience.org] cache [google.com] [Link not cached at time of posting]
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation [moore.org] cache [google.com] [Cache link active]
Licence [publiclibr...cience.org] cache [google.com] [Link not cached at time of posting]
editorial board [publiclibr...cience.org] cache [google.com] [Link not cached at time of posting]

obligatory soviet-russia comment (-1, Redundant)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903771)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA, Science Owns You! :)

*grins sheepishly*

Re:obligatory soviet-russia comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903837)

shut up! shut up! shut up!

Re:obligatory soviet-russia comment (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904036)

In Soviet Russia, up shuts YOU!

Re:obligatory soviet-russia comment (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904148)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA.. ..my fist smashes your fucking face open like it was a fucking pinata..and instead of treats it's your goddamn brains spilling out like grotesque bloody candy..

yeah.

in soviet russia... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903772)

in soviet russia, science owns you!

Re:in soviet russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903803)

please don't listen to slashdot servers, they are wrong: i was first.

additionally, i am not stupid enough to waste moderation points on a soviet russia comment, and therefor deserve your awe and lust more than the uncreative biped above.

Re:in soviet russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904067)

In Soviet Russia, lust awes YOU!

Re:in soviet russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904082)

i am not stupid enough to waste moderation points on a soviet russia comment

In Soviet Russia, the stupid comments moderate you!

Is it still peer reviewed? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903775)

What gets in? If it is public I mean, then couldn't anybody submit and be published?

Easiest question I've had to answer all day? (2, Insightful)

SteweyGriffin (634046) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903786)

Way back in the 19th century, protestant Englishman and Americans celebrated the new religion of amorality. This belief constituted a release from moral stricture for the then ruling class. Well this class rules today, and so does their moral law that they established.

Look, I don't know how to tell you this, but corporate america owns science, and has owned science for over a century. I think you should
consider what this means.

Check out arXiv.org (5, Informative)

Samir Gupta (623651) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903798)

Many authors of scientific papers, at least in Physics, Math, and CS are making preprints available for free on arXiv.org [arxiv.org] . This is a great site, and as a fellow scientist, I for one would like to see more authors do this and make their knowledge accessible to those who don't want to feed greedy journal publishers.

uh (-1)

redhotchil (44670) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903805)

the us patent office, obviously

Other supporters of the cause (2)

plone (140417) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903814)

If I am not mistaken, the financier George Soros has also made noticeable contributions towards the liberalisation of science journals. Even though some of his other business "ventures" are more ruthless, I am glad to see that he realizes the importance of free information and the societal benefits that it will provide.

plus.... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904056)

...plus, he gets *first dibs* on seeing the submitted articles. I just cannot fathom why any megascale investor would want to see advanced technological information like that.....

heh hehheh

Standing on the shoulders of Giants (4, Insightful)

sflory (2747) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903823)

Newton put it best. "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants"

All science, and technology is built on prior theories, experimentation and research. Putting more information out there is the best to speed our understanding of the world. As well bring new technologies into being.

Re:Standing on the shoulders of Giants (5, Funny)

ice cream koan (634082) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904006)

In computer science, we stand on each other's toes.

Re:Standing on the shoulders of Giants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904075)

In corporate science, bosses stand on your head!

In Soviet Russia (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904141)

bosses head stands on you!

You speak the truth, sensei (5, Interesting)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904058)

Ain't that the truth. Just think about the legions of people that still think our Earth to be 6,000 years old, or do not understand the fundamentals of evolution, or who still harbor belief in scietific impossibilities like ghosts, or blatant myths like efreets and virgins giving birth to supermen that can walk on water. The world is suffering from a severe lack of scientific education and frankly, any little bit helps.

Learning is Co-evolutionary (5, Insightful)

Quirk (36086) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903826)

Research, knowledge and learning are co-evolutionary endeavours requiring persons capable of sending and deciphering symbols. Proprietory interferrence has no place in the process and proprietory interlopers are late comers to a process that began with the development of speech.

A strange but perhaps helpful analogy might be the railroads. The paths the railways followed were those travelled by those who came before the railways but the capital investment necessary to lay the track and get the trains rolling required huge outlays of private capital. To compensate the capital investment much land and resources was given to the railways. Now with the new technologies the proprietory moguls are trying to make a case that knowledge can't be dissiminated without similar out lays of capital to that necessary to underwrite the railways. And that the outlay entitles them to ownership of the goods and services that use the infrastructure and technology. This is akin to the railways being given ownership of all the goods and services the railway brought to developing nations. This amounts to the old adage of putting the cart before the horse. For knowledge and research to thrive it must have free reign and if the new technology is to carry the fruit of new research then it must be underwritten by government or non-proprietory means.

Re:Learning is Co-evolutionary (2)

gilroy (155262) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904045)

Blockquoth the poster:

The paths the railways followed were those travelled by those who came before

Sometimes, but not always. Read Empire Express for a decent treatment of how much the transcontinental railroads followed known paths and how much they actually blazed new paths -- including levelling or raising the grade, if need be.

MINE! MINE! MINE! PAY ME! (-1, Offtopic)

flyneye (84093) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903833)

its been mine all along.i inherited it from a dead uncle who'd been holding the title and deed to it all these years.hang on a second ill set up a paypal account.
form a line to the left.
major credit cards accepted.
wait'll Beakman sees the suit im gonna file,he'll have to pimp his rat!

What is science? Can't all be free... (2)

dagg (153577) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903838)

Here's one definition:
science: The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

Some science is patented, some science is copyrighted, some science is just plain hidden, and some science is common sense. The only way all science will ever be completely free/open is if we are all borg'ified.

Re:What is science? Can't all be free... (1)

blue trane (110704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904125)

I think the point is that free/open science will benefit us all (even the journal publishers, because they too will benefit from quicker technological advances) more than the other kinds, and contribute towards us not becoming "borgified".

points taken (1)

additional_req (634846) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903839)

i like the idea of PLoS but corporate america does own science...er..sorta

How Ironic... (4, Insightful)

bdesham (533897) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903842)

scientific literature cannot be privately controlled or owned by the publishers of scientific journals, and must instead be available in public archives freely accessible by anyone and everyone
Interesting... this is being run in the New York Times, FRRYYY . Obviously its editors aren't reading their own articles that closely...

Re:How Ironic... (1)

blue trane (110704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904149)

Notice the "Free" in "Free Registration Required"...

Hope for the future... (1)

IlluminatedOne (621945) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903849)

Hopefully, this will lead to development and testing of theories to be free. Prototypes and exploratory digs to be free. Hopefully, the secrets to long-term, manned space exploration can be found in a cooperative funded only by the raw materials, hard work and brainpower of its members. In essence, the scientific and discoverative process needs to break the binds that tie it, namely, money and "military applications". "...and on some days it just rains..." -Principia Disordia

Dartmouth fMRI DC - Public Data Warehouse (3, Informative)

sunguru (219528) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903850)

This is exactly the kind of stuff being done today up at Dartmouth College. The fMRI Data Center [fmridc.org] is home to a public data warehouse of MRI scans. Publishing research involves more than just glossy pictures and a paper, the actual data should be shared to allow others to repeat the experiment.

The community [nature.com] has not yet decided if this is a good idea but they will come around.

Minority report (1)

jsse (254124) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903851)

The New York Times has an article [Sorry, tomorrow's article, no Google link yet]

I wish I could read it, but I've just been arrested for murdering Cowboy Neal tomorrow.

Are we too late? (2)

thewickedmystic (634177) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903854)

This movement is not new. It is in fact, the original way that science came to be. It only stopped when secrecy became involved.

When science was used to devolope weapons, it stopped being pure and became a new form of global currancy.

Corporations picked up on this later and started restircting information sharing by use of patents and such.

These have been the norm for so long, that a lot of the scientific growth we have made in the last centruy belongs to one entity or another. NOW we are saying that it needs to be shared... interesting.

We are all veterans of the latest battlefield, intellectual property. How many of us have had great ideas that we can't share with anyone else because we'll loose our jobs, or even worse, get sued for all we are worth because we violated our hiring contracts?

Is it too late to return to the way that worked? This is something to think about.

I do (4, Funny)

cca93014 (466820) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903857)

I own it all, and i will sell it to you for one million dollars

Bad Idea (5, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903870)

These people are asking authors to pay $1500 per paper to cover the editorial costs. This is a Bad Idea.

First, this will inevitably have a negative effect on the submission of papers; I certainly wouldn't have submitted my first paper (now published) while I was still an undergraduate student if I had to pay for it.

Second, this raises a conflict of interest. If a journal's costs are being met by its authors, there will be a pressure to keep those authors happy -- which means publishing their papers. The current situation, where a journal's costs are met by its subscribers is the opposite -- the journals are under pressure to keep the quality as high as possible.

Finally, remember that quite a few papers are available online already. This varies from field to field, of course, but most mathematicians I know have all of their papers from the past decade online.

Re:Bad Idea (2)

nucal (561664) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903904)

Very few journals make a profit. A typical journal article is paid for by the investigators to cover costs of printing. If you look, most scientific journal articles are marked "advertisement" because of this ...

Re:Bad Idea (3, Informative)

Alomex (148003) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904014)

Very few journals make a profit

Actually, academic journals used to make small profits until the mid-1980s, when a wave of consolidations changed this entirely. In fact, last time I looked into this (a few years back) the profits of academic journal publishing divisions had been rising steadily and well above inflation.

A typical journal article is paid for by the investigators to cover costs of printing.

Wrong again. Depends very much on the area. Math and computer science are not this way. Physics is about half and half, with some journals being free, others charging above a certain number of pages, and lastly others charging a per-page fee.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

955301 (209856) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903930)

Fee Waivers
We understand that there are many scientists who might wish to publish in our journals but do not have to access grant funds or institutional support to allow them to pay publication fees, and we will substantially reduce or waive the publication fees for any authors for whom they would be a burden. We never want our publication charges to be a barrier to publication, and will publish any paper that our editors and reviewers deem to be appropriate for the journals, and will treat the costs of handling these papers as a fundamental expense of running a high-quality journal.


Nothing more to add, really.

Re:Bad Idea (2, Informative)

Rainier Wolfecastle (591298) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903950)

Don't forget, this $1500 fee, which might just seem a tad expensive to labs in North America, is oftentimes backbreaking to struggling third-world labs. Science has already strayed from discovery to business. The last thing we need is financial discrimination to totally exclude certain sections of the scientific community.

Re:Bad Idea (5, Informative)

gilroy (155262) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904059)

Blockquoth the poster:

These people are asking authors to pay $1500 per paper to cover the editorial costs. This is a Bad Idea.

Maybe, maybe not. In any event, in many fields of science, the investigator already pays. That's right -- for some journals, the author pays to publish, the subscriber pays to receive, and the journal holds the copyright! When I was a grad student, way back in the early 1990s, Astrophysical Journal charged about $100 per page.

Re:Bad Idea (2, Insightful)

taehan (581426) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904108)

To publish in any reputable journal, the authors have to pay a fee. This fee depends on the number of pages of the article along with the number of figures. The costs go up dramatically if color figures are included. My last paper cost nearly $2000, but most of that was due to my color figures.

Re:Bad Idea (3, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904129)

To publish in any reputable journal, the authors have to pay a fee.

You have an interesting definition of "reputable".

e Print Archives (2, Informative)

mentatjack (309991) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903878)

I keep abreast of current science using http://xxx.lanl.gov

Articles show up in the ePrint archive often 6 months before they shows up in the journals.

Re:e Print Archives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903899)

I keep a breast in my drawer.

I can't keep them for 6 months , they don't keep that long.

It's pretty simple actually (4, Interesting)

SteweyGriffin (634046) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903893)

There's a rarely-explored connection between science and freedom AFAIK.

IANAL, but I still feel that the automatic assumption that these two things will always get better rests on the broad but not infinite shoulders of Aristotle, the Founding Fathers (regardless of where you live), and Ayn Rand-like characters.

IIRC from my studies, during the 'Dark Ages', the accumulated knowledge of centuries vanished, and these instants nearly coincided with repression of freedom (either from church or state).

PMFJI, but there is much evidence that the American era is coming to an end, and with it may come darker ages than those ever before known. (specifally, I cite the FDA, for crushing the advance of pharmacudical/medical science, as well as the departments of education, for caving to the mysics in their insistance that creationism be taught in public schools; and the gov't in general for any and all attempts to regulate, censor, or tax the Internet.)

This may sound TLTBT, but I say enjoy the freedom you have while you still have it. Our time time may be running out.

TXS.

Re:It's pretty simple actually (1)

jdkincad (576359) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904025)

AFAIK. ... IANAL,... IIRC ... PMFJI...FDA... TLTBT,... TXS.
Admit it, you just made posted that to use numerous abbreviations.

we all know (0)

iosmart (624285) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903894)

that iosmart owns science!! or maybe price chopper wristbands and latex gloves owns science. who knows?

What the hell kind of commies are these? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903898)

PUBLIC ownership? That's a paddling!

Science: Patent Pending (1)

DougJohnson (595893) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903908)

My current Science Patent is pending at the US Patent office. I've outlined the "Technique of researching, evaluating and publishing" Where in a participant (which I call Scientist) will seek to find a problem, then think about or find a solution. This patent also covers the cases where there is an a priori solution, and the Scientist attempts to find a problem

If you wish to license this technology, please contact me.

google research (3, Interesting)

rediguana (104664) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903925)

What I would like to see developed is Google Research, a search engine of papers only. Yes, your milage would vary as some would, and some would not have had peer review. But it would still be a very useful research tool.

Not "science" -- "biology" (5, Insightful)

StupendousMan (69768) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903935)

Note that the PLoS plans to start with two journals which focus on biology and medicine. These are the fields where basic research can yield megabucks in the relatively short term. In my own field (astronomy), there's not a cent to be made by anyone; hence, I doubt we'll see a PLoS journal of astronomy or astrophysics anytime soon.

Note also that if researchers didn't care about getting money from industry, they wouldn't be chary of publishing their results for all to see. The real problems occur when scientists need big money to set up big labs employing many people to develop new medicines (or do research which has obvious applications to new medicines) which can treat "wealthy" diseases: diseases which affect many people in wealthy countries. I don't see a way around this: investment by big pharmaceutical companies WILL speed the pace of such research (that's good), but will also lead to secrecy and higher drug prices for some time after the products first appear (that's bad).

Some problems are just plain complicated. This is one of them. I wish the PLoS the best of luck, but I don't give them much of a chance. As long as a few researchers are willing to work in secrecy, they can use the PLoS results plus their "secret" results and often beat the "public" researchers to the punch. It's not unlike the prisoner's dilemma.

Enter Politics (5, Insightful)

Anik315 (585913) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903972)

Of course this is all noble, well-intentioned and all that good stuff in principle...

But

This changes subtly capitalistic influences to a subtly politicized ones.

I don't care how accomplished these prominent scientists on the editorial boards are, they're not gods, and they'll have their own subconcious axes to grind. In journals like Science and Nature, at least the capitalistic incentive is dry and impersonal, unlike the motivation to maintain dogma.

I'm not so sure the monetary incentive is worse than the political one which would emerge here.

Good for them. One small step for freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4903976)

I'm glad there are a few who do not equate innovation with new ways to stick meters on that
which can be free. Or surrender to the notion
that anything which can be metered should be metered for the sake of the ideology of capitalism or maintaining an advantage over their
fellows.

Distribution Models and the 'net (5, Insightful)

ice cream koan (634082) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903979)

"It sounds very sympathetic to say this should be available to the public," he said. "But this kind of material is only used by experts."

I have to disagree with this viewpoint. Just because the majority of people who want to get to this information are "experts" doesn't mean you shouldn't make it available to everyone. There are plenty of people (I am one of them) who have an interest in various scientific fields and like to read papers and yet who aren't studying for their PHDs. When are they going to start one of these journals for physics! (I guess there is Arxiv [arxiv.org] .)

Some people have said that lots of scientific work is copyrighted/patented, but that doesn't prevent free distribution. The whole _point_ of the patent process is to give the patentee a guaranteed limited monopoly so that they _will_ immediately publish their works, instead of hording them as secrets. Free distribution doesn't mean noone can make any money.

Really, this seems like the trend that is happening in many areas where distribution has hitherto been controlled by a small group of publishers, due to the high cost of publishing. The internet can change the way we distribute information without killing commerce!

At least Nature (the magazine) isn't passing their own version of the DMCA...

Public libraries (2, Interesting)

Door-opening Fascist (534466) | more than 11 years ago | (#4903985)

When I want a copy of Science, I take a short bike ride to my local public library. It's good excercise, and it saves me quite a bit of money.

Granted, this doesn't solve the problem with distribution in the Third-World, but I think that can be solved mainly through grants and generosity on Science's part. Third-World doctors are unlikely to subscribe due to the financial costs involved, so Science isn't going to be losing any potential paying customers anyways.

For great justice (2)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904023)

It's like that old saying "Anyone can experience and learn astronomy, all you have to do is look up". Well, not really, but you get the idea. Now all you have to do is hit the plos journals. This is tremendous news to me. As it stands now, I have to go downtown to the university library in order to read the latest Science journals. That, or pay way to much for my favorates, especially certain technology related journals. If this all pans out, the progression of man can be shared and enjoyed by all, not just by those with access ('$') to the "closed sources".

information is one only (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4904076)

For all practial purposes, we can regard information to be either zero or one in numbers. You either have it or you don't.

Apples and oranges, for all practical sake, should be counted for as many there are. ie. 10 apples in this basket. Same goes for CDs or books. Anything solid. But for information, you cannot know something twice. You may have two of the same CD, but the information should count as one.

Now lets add the internet to the picture. The internet has no hard copy. Information is either online or offline. Everyone has it, or no one has it. And ANYONE can publish anything for virutally no cost. Even what someone else wants to keep secret or restricted.

Hence all businesses that bank on the delivery or copying of data, should either find another job, or change their attitude to "selling hard copies" from "selling you the info".

Inevitably, there will be a shift of value towards the creators of information, and not the copies of information. Information alone, is either available or unavailable. But the creators are solid. The creators have restrictions on time. The creators can decide what they create. The creators can decide what to make public. And money may as well influence their decisions.

We, the individuals are the creators. The 21st century will be the century of the individual. No longer will people get filthy rich for selling other people's work. No longer will creators stay rich when they are no longer creative. No longer will the market govern innovation.

Finally, this century, innovation will govern the market. Simply because that is how we wish for things to be. And our wish is our next creation.

Science is like video games (-1)

grasshoppers (632679) | more than 11 years ago | (#4904080)

You can't own it, you can only PWN IT!
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