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Free Global Virtual Scientific Library

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the free-as-in-research dept.

Databases 113

Several readers wrote in with news of the momentum gathering behind free access to government-funded research. A petition "to create a freely available virtual scientific library available to the entire globe" garnered more than 20,000 signatures, including several Nobel prize winners and 750 education, research, and cultural organizations from around the world. The European Commission responded by committing more than $100 million towards support for open access journals and for the building of infrastructure needed to house institutional repositories able to store the millions of academic articles written each year. In the article Michael Geist discusses the open access movement and its critics.

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113 comments

And we'll call it... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196092)

Wikipedia!

Re:And we'll call it... (1, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196222)

Like Wikipedia, except for requiring proven education to get a grant or to review articles. Don't get me wrong, I love Wikipedia - but I hope my doctor doesn't rely on it when prescribing medication.

Re:And we'll call it... (5, Insightful)

Mirk (184717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196344)

No, this is not at all like Wikipedia. It's about peer-reviewed research, created by professionals in the field, and it's about taking this publicly funded work out of the hands of private publishers and giving to back to the people who paid for it.

Re:And we'll call it... (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196368)

I had an appointment for next week so my doctor could prescribe me some medication he read about on Wikipedia, but he had to cancel it. Turns out he had to go on an emergency hunting expedition to Africa to try and help with the elephant overpopulation issues they've been dealing with lately.

Re:And we'll call it... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196422)

Don't get me wrong, I love Wikipedia - but I hope my doctor doesn't rely on it when prescribing medication.
Dont know in USA, but in Mexico, doctors use something called Pharmaceutics Speciality Dictionary (or something similar) and the Mexico's University has it available for free . [facmed.unam.mx]

Going on topic, The non availability of the research papers has always been frustrating for me. I am currently doing a PhD and fortunately my University has subscription to *lots* of journals and services like Scopus or eBrary. I understand why eBrary is not free (they offer complete books after all) but almost all of the research published in the scientific journals is made on Universities.

But, when I was doing my Bachellors degree (at my poorman's univesity somewhere in Mexico) I remember reading abstracts and some titles of some papers without having the chance to read them all. I think it is not fair. I remember somewhere I read a rant by Prof. Donald Knuth about the editorial monopolies happening in research (by elsevier and two or three others). For some journals the author even has to *pay* the journal to publish his work... that is crap.

Now, both my parents are researchers (biologists) and they told me that, if you are interested in some paper it is still possible to write to the author and ask for it directly, they will almost always agree to give it to you (at the end, you might potentially cite them on a paper). I have done that two or three times but some authors just refer you to the publication (in other words, they do not give it to you ).

Re:And we'll call it... (1)

jakosc (649857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18198176)

...PloS

This is the whole idea behind the Public Library of Science [plos.org] which has really taken off in the last couple of years. It's peer reviewed, high quality research, and gives free online access to everyone.

"PLoS is a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource."

Traffic's Up since Digg is down..... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196112)

enjoy stina!

Library purpose (4, Informative)

saskboy (600063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196116)

The purpose of libraries in modern times may change to offer that sort of science service. My area's library has a list of online databases [lib.sk.ca] they pay for, and offer to everyone with a library card [which is free where I'm from] to access them. Perhaps ask your local library what databases and journals/periodicals they offer to you at no cost online.

Re:Library purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196300)

Service in Toronto (Canada) public libraries is absolutely ABYSMAL, due to the use of M$ computers! I visit Toronto often, but do not live there, hence I am not eligible for a "free" library card, and so I am limited to the "15 minute express" machines, while everyone with a "free" library card gets an hour! Absolutely discriminatory service due to M$ policies.

Now, compare this with the linux based Stratford (Canada) library using Usernet.com systems...EVERYONE, with or without a card, including tourists, visitors, etc. can sign up and use a terminal for one hour. A far, far, FAR better and equitable system.

WAKE UP TORONTO PUBLIC LIBRARY!

Re:Library purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18197074)

You are probably confusing Toronto library policies with Microsoft policies. It is most likely the policy of the Toronto library to only grant you access to the "15 minute express" machines. I would not call it discriminatory service for a municipal library to restrict usage by non-residents. You are not a Toronto resident, not a tax payer into the municipal coffers, and not part of the Toronto Library's primary client base.

Re:Library purpose (0, Troll)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196762)

Actually, for many 'researchers', the purpose of libraries and journals is to bury information, not to spread it. A significant minority of people in academia have to publish to get their degree or maintain their position or maintain their funding, and they publish stuff that is trivial, irrelevant, or outright bullshit. They do not want the average person to be able to say "My taxes were spent on THIS???" They will be some of the strongest opponents of open access.

Re:Library purpose (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197110)

That is almost entirely wrong. It is true that the current system of evaluating research quality is based on paper counts and citation counts, rather than any real measure of quality (of which there aren't any, at least none that a bean counter could grok). And this tends to encourage people to publish a lot of papers, which are often at best minor advances to the field. But they certainly DO NOT want their publications to be buried: as useful as publications are to the bean counters, a paper that is CITED is always far more useful. To that end, it is much better to have your work disseminated as widely as possible, in the hope that some clueless noob will cite it.

Re:Library purpose (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197214)

I didn't state it as clearly as I should have. They want it to be buried where only their peers are likely to find it. Which describes the current system.

Re:Library purpose (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197412)

Well, the vast majority of papers are aimed at other experts in the field. How many non-experts have any chance of understanding even a well-written academic paper?

The reason the system has grown into the monstrosity that it is, is precisely because non-experts have no way of distinguishing what is a good paper from what is not.

Re:Library purpose (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203570)

non-experts have no way of distinguishing what is a good paper from what is not.
The experts sometimes can't distinguish a well written paper either. The physicist Alan Sokol wrote a pomo paper that was deliberate nonsense, and it got puiblished: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_Affair [wikipedia.org]

I recommend reading the entire wiki; near the end is a reference to a computer-generated paper that got published.

And previously on slashdot, a scientist claims that most scientific papers are wrong: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/08/3 0/2048236 [slashdot.org]

And then there are the fakes, which get published despite outrageous claims, like the one about a year ago by Hwang Woo Suk who claimed major advances in stem cell research. After it was debunked, his peers said that it was obviously BS and should have been recognized as such.

Re:Library purpose (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203684)

And just last Sunday, Al Gore got peer review of one of his scientific studies. Why don't all peers award gold statues?

Re:Library purpose (1)

TimFenn (924261) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204664)

non-experts have no way of distinguishing what is a good paper from what is not.
The experts sometimes can't distinguish a well written paper either. The physicist Alan Sokol wrote a pomo paper that was deliberate nonsense, and it got puiblished: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_Affair [wikipedia.org]
Bad example: experts weren't consulted in the Sokal affair - Social Text didn't peer review the submission, so it was never evaluated by experts in the first place.

And previously on slashdot, a scientist claims that most scientific papers are wrong: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/08/3 0/2048236 [slashdot.org]
Thats the whole reason most of us science folk get involved in science: no theory is perfect, the interesting part is testing 'em out and fixing the parts that are broke. If most scientific papers were 100% correct, we wouldn't have anything to argue about, would we?

And then there are the fakes, which get published despite outrageous claims, like the one about a year ago by Hwang Woo Suk who claimed major advances in stem cell research. After it was debunked, his peers said that it was obviously BS and should have been recognized as such.
Again: no one said science was perfect, and neither is the peer review process (I'm in favor of Paul Ginsparg's idea [cornell.edu] re. peer review, but thats another story), but as you say: it was his peers that noticed the problem, not laymen. So yes: experts can tell the difference.

Re: Not So. (4, Insightful)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18198250)

This is hardly likely, except in a miniscule fraction of research libraries. Although there are reams of papers whose finding are essentially worthless, often what is worthless to one investigator is often of value to another. This is the case because research papers seldom contain a single relevant "finding". Often papes contain important and valuable data, but the interpretations or methods used to analyze it are faulty or poorly chosen.

A much, much bigger problem is that the average Joe has no interest in reading ANY technical publications (on line or otherwise) and for many who try they really don't have a clue as to what it means. Just look at how the science of climate change is covered in the news and in print. The entire science is predicated largely on the solution of differential equations and numerical analysis. Just how many readers are really in a position to read and properly interpret such results? The percentage is extremely small.

I have published "obscure papers" myself. I would love it if they were more widely available, read, and appreciated, but regardless of whether people would find them "useless" or "valuable" it seems unlikely that these will be even read, except by a few experts.

Re:Library purpose (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197578)

It is true that the current system of evaluating research quality is based on paper counts and citation counts, rather than any real measure of quality (of which there aren't any, at least none that a bean counter could grok).
I think citation counts are actually the best system available. Look at it this way, the WWW is under intense pressure from web spammers, and the best known way to select usable information is google's Page Rank, which is basically citations. Heh, maybe sometime soon researchers will be evaluated by their online publications' PageRank, just like web spammers are. "I'm the number one hit for post-arthroscopy subcutaneous emphysema! Tenure is mine!!!"

Re:Library purpose (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197450)

Do you think the average person would even search a science db in the first place? Judging from the reports on how ignorant most people are concerning science I doubt they'd be using it.

Journalists and political activists on the other hand might ("Why is the government funding evolutionary biology research!?").

Re:Library purpose (2, Interesting)

pfbram (1070364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18201298)

I've worked IT at a Big-10 research library the past 7 years and GPL'd SourceForge project: http://libdata.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]. There's an excellent web site, dedicated to evangelizing open source software in libraries: http://oss4lib.org/ [oss4lib.org]. One progressive company that jumps to my mind in particular has bridged the open source paradigm with the basic necessity of earning an income. My hat goes off to these guys hailing from Denmark: http://www.indexdata.dk/ [indexdata.dk].

That said, libraries exist mainly as government-funded entities here in the US. And, when you think about it, government agencies by-and-large don't actually produce things themselves -- they primarily exist as subsidizing entities: they have a mission and a budget, and "contract out" to the private sector, whether it's building spaceships, tanks, spying on would-be terrorists (or you and me), or stocking libraries.

One of many problems that libraries are encountering, I think, is that open source technologies -- and information outlets -- sort of violate the long-standing tradition of government=subsidizer. There have been some attempts (R-Santorum, as I recall) who tried to limit NOAA from offering any weather service that competed with the private sector (Google the specifics). I wonder if there's some political pushing that wants to prevent libraries from treading on their vendors' bandwagons also. This is very problematic, since we're in a post-industrial era, and practically any service you offer potentially treads on someone else's interest in offering the same service -- but with a price tag.

I'm now middle-age, and worked in public libraries 11 years before my current gig at a large university. I've seen (and assisted) libraries go from card catalog to fully automated, to (slowly but surely) private database subsidizers. It's the Y and Z generations that will need to really hammer this one out. Your chief challenge will be to change the nonsense model that requires tax/tuition-funded faculty to publish in closed venues, relinquish many of their rights, and the citizens/students are forced to buy back the same rights. It's dead model. The etymology of "publish" means "to make public". Today's dynamic is quite the reverse, sort of the anti-publishing industry, setting up protected access barriers more so than conquering them. Ponder this carefully.

The other thing to keep in mind is that academic is "one of the last great medieval institutions" as an IT consultant I once worked with at the University termed it. I worry that they are antagonistic toward sources like the Wikipedia for all the wrong reasons. If you think about it carefully, professors grade papers based on (a) the accuracy of the information the student presents and (b) how well the student properly cited his/her sources. If the information was correct, why should it matter whether it was his astrophysicist neighbor (personal communications are citable sources), textbook A, research paper B, a ridiculously expensive database that the university had to subscribe to, or some free source of information?

I think I know the answer, but simply knowing it won't help matters at all. It'll entail a change of guard -- so it's up to the under-40 crowd to figure this one out, and when they become the next generation of library managers, university administrators, and IT directors suggesting that libraries might become Wikipedia mirrors (hint, hint) and contributors, things may then begin to iron out on their own. :-)

Shouldn't it already be this way? (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196118)

Is there really any reason why government-funded research shouldn't be made available to the masses? After all, wasn't it the masses who paid for the research?

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (2, Informative)

Damastus the WizLiz (935648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196164)

Now they are making it even easier to access. I think this is a great move. however it will be an expensive undertaking. I just hope that they make this access to the public, not just global universities and research centers.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196336)

At least some of it is - if in the USA an institution publish anything it is public domain (for example NASA images).

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (2, Informative)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196452)

I don't believe so.

If you publish to a journal, the journal takes over the copyright. Your university's library has to pay the journal to get access to the article you wrote. And, of course, the price of journals have been skyrocketing lately ...

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (5, Informative)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196808)

And, of course, the price of journals have been skyrocketing lately ...
There has been some effort to fight this, for instance the formerly pretigious journal Topology has the entire editorial board resign after negotiations over lower pricing with the journal publisher, Elsevier, failed. The members of the editorial board then founded the Journal of Topology with the London Mathematical society as publisher with a much lower price. In general, however, you are correct - the price of journals has been increasing steadily. Historically expensive journals made some sense; there was significant cost in typesetting and printing, particularly for any articles that had significant mathematical content, since typesetting mathematics was considerably more difficult and expensive than plain text. Nowadays, however, journals can publish electronically, and article submissions are often required to be in TeX which reduces the formerly expensive task of typesetting to the relatively simple task of merging several TeX files into a consistent document. The high cost of journals really is no longer justified. Indeed, some of the most significant papers in mathematics in the last few years (Perelman's proof of the Poincare Conjecture) were not published in any journal but simply placed on arXiv.org as preprints.

Scientific Bootstrap Kit (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18199918)

What you say about journals is true, but the same is true of books in general now that reading electronic versions is becoming practical. (Still waiting for an e-ink book with pages, though.) There's money to be made in selling a physical object that's more expensive than it needs to be.

Has anyone yet put together a physical artifact containing a few thousand key scientific papers, blueprints, engineers' memoirs, and raw data collections? Not that we have any real use for such a thing at the moment, but it'd be cool to have the sort of object that could theoretically boost a civilization's technology level or bootstrap a space colony.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196814)

I don't think he meant it that way. Any research from Federal institutions, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation, and the like are freely accessible*. I may be mistaken, but I believe stuff done directly by the government (for example the excellent Image-J software from NIH, are public domain, not just available for free, not even BSD-type licensing). Many publications in the PubMed database are open. ISTR that the NIH is moving to require research that they fund and is carried out by external researchers (universities and the like) be published in open access journals, at least within a certain time frame of publication in "closed-access" journals. I believe that they provide a line in grants for the extra (and often heavy) fees charged for publication in open access journals, too. (I just do the work, my boss handles the grant details.)

Also, if I again recall correctly, the NIH (and mayby NSF) and the American Chemical Society (ACS) have been having words about NIH's plans for PubMed and the National Library of Medicine. ACS publishes many well-respected journals, most of which have steep subscription prices. (And most scientific journals also impose page charges on their contributors, as well as subscription prices.)

FWIW, I'm a member of the ACS, and work on bioinformatics projects funded by the NIH.

(*well, actually, the NIH requires a shrubbery)

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197722)

If most researchers are anything like me, the first thing they'll do after publishing is post the full text of their research on their own websites for dissemination, copyright infringement or no. We want research to be free; anyone truly devoted to advancing the state of human knowledge has a duty to make their research available.

Not to mention that a copyright infringement case on one's own work, whatever the outcome, would probably be the fastest way to accelerate and publicize the open research movement.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (5, Informative)

Mirk (184717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196378)

Is there really any reason why government-funded research shouldn't be made available to the masses? After all, wasn't it the masses who paid for the research?

Yes, there is a reason -- but not a good one. Very big publishing houses such as Elsevier have a huge financial interest in maintaining the status quo, whereby government-funded researchers donate their work for free to the publishers, who then make a large profit by printing and selling it. It is typical (though not universal) for the publishers also to take the copyright of the papers they publish. To add insult to injury, it's not ususual for the publishers to CHARGE THE AUTHORS for the privilege of donating their work -- usually a fixed amount per page above some predefined page limit.

The whole academic publishing game is a racket of the most egregious kind, and the Open Access movement is a very badly needed antidote to the way things are. Scott Aaronson has written a scathing analogy [scottaaronson.com] to the current situation which I strongly encourage everyone to read (not least because it's funny).

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197694)

Oh good, you've reminded me to reiterate my annual grumble about the federal government's refusal to post an official tax filing website. It's the exact same problem: it would save both the government and taxpayers tons of money. But since companies like TurboTax thrive in the niche created by wasteful paper filing, these companies have thwarted every attempt to solve the problem. As a result, I file federal taxes via paper (it's not much trouble anyways). Even though I live in about the most backwards state in the nation, I can do my state taxes at an official online site because I guess we're too small for TurboTax to care about.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18200090)

Oh, and you forgot the fact that most of the work to get the paper in (once the paper's written) is done by the reviewers, which aren't paid either and don't even get to see the final paper. I'm not sure whether the associate editors are paid, but I would assume they're not.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204276)

It is typical (though not universal) for the publishers also to take the copyright of the papers they publish.


Copyright is an inalianable human right. You could not give it up if you wanted to, but you can give someone else copyright too. For a publisher to say that an author is not allowed to make copies and distribute them in parallel to the publisher's own distributions is a violation of human rights by the publisher.

Further, copyright is a HUMAN right. Companies are legal entities, but they are not human. How a company then can own a copyright confuses me.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

Mirk (184717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204588)

Further, copyright is a HUMAN right. Companies are legal entities, but they are not human. How a company then can own a copyright confuses me.

Well, yes ... you are confused :-)

On an abstract ethical level, I more or less agree with you. But legally, you are dead wrong. Companies can, and do, take copyright from authors. Not just academic publishers, either. Many, perhaps most, publishers require you to sign an explicit disclaimer that transfers copyright to them. That's why, for example, my little paper of dinosaur taxonomy [miketaylor.org.uk] has a banner saying "© 2005 University of California Museum of Paleontology". So far as the law is concerned, copyright is just another piece of property, which can be bought and sold just like a used car.

That's the way the world is. But there are honourable exceptions. For example, articles published in Zoologica Scripta bear the legend "© 2006 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2006 The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters".

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204690)

The whole academic publishing game is a racket of the most egregious kind, and the Open Access movement is a very badly needed antidote to the way things are.
In some cases this is definitely true, in some cases not so. That makes it a bit difficult to figure this this out.

Scott Aaronson has written a scathing analogy [scottaaronson.com] to the current situation which I strongly encourage everyone to read (not least because it's funny).
Very interesting link. Perhaps it's a scathing analogy, funny too, perhaps it is also a review of the book, with analogies, paradoxes and ironies, some "fair enough" things, but in any case has self-referential paradoxes that are at the core of the problem (maybe I'm being too academical?). Let me quote a bit:

This article is supposed to be a review of a book called The Access Principle by John Willinsky (MIT Press, 2006). So let me now turn to reviewing it. The Access Principle is a paradox: on the one hand, its stated goal is to make the case for open access to research and scholarship. Its thesis is that "a commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of such work as far as possible and ideally to all who are interested in it and all who might profit by it" (p. xii). On the other hand, the book is printed in hardcover and sells for $34.95. Recognizing what he calls the "all-too-obvious irony," Willinsky explains that while much of the book's content is available for free online, he's chosen to collect it in book form, first, to reach a wider audience; second, because of his "admitted attachment to the book's becoming look and familiar feel"; and third, because "the book remains the medium that best serves the development of a wide-ranging and thoroughgoing treatment of an issue in a single sustained piece of writing" (p. xiv-xv). Fair enough -- in any case, my review copy was free.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (5, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196450)

FTFA:
Indeed, soon after the launch of the European petition, Nature reported that publishers were preparing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to counter open access support with a message that equates public access to government censorship.

The Nature article being referenced [nature.com]
The Slashdot Story about the article [slashdot.org]

"[Dezenhall the consultant] hinted that the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review"

"Brian Crawford, a senior vice-president at the American Chemical Society and a member of the [Association of American Publishers] executive chair, says that Dezenhall's suggestions have been refined and that the publishers have not to his knowledge sought to work with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. On the censorship message, he adds: "When any government or funding agency houses and disseminates for public consumption only the work it itself funds, that constitutes a form of selection and self-promotion of that entity's interests""

I don't really think that logic makes sense, but these guys are feeling a bit desperate, considering that their profit margin/business model could be legislated into oblivion.

zCyl (14362) [slashdot.org]
They're trying to insinuate that public access means a thing must be funded by the government, and thus subject to state control. This is a silly false dichotomy of course, but such is the nature of propaganda.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (3, Informative)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196636)

Is there really any reason why government-funded research shouldn't be made available to the masses? After all, wasn't it the masses who paid for the research?

Yes, but they don't pay to publish it, which isn't free. Also, many of the non-profit professional societies use subscription money to do rather a lot of good for K-12 and undergraduate education, so there's an effect there too.

I'd like to see an open system too, but it's not as simple as it sounds, which is why it hasn't happened.

Shouldn't it already be financed this way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196752)

There's also the issue of "global" access. The people in the US have paid for their material, but someone outside the US hasn't. Why should they get it free? The same applies to foreign material as well. The internet may destroy regional boundaries, but it hasn't destroyed financial ones.

Re:Shouldn't it already be financed this way? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197650)

Why should they get it free?

Because information wants to be free? And with virtually nil distribution costs, there's no logical reason(but plenty of instinctive ones) to deny access.

The internet may destroy regional boundaries, but it hasn't destroyed financial ones.

More like the reverse is true, but either way the problem will be resolved soon, I hope. It's time to tear down ALL boundaries.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

pigphish (1070214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196760)

On the other side of the coin, I would think the journals provide some level of oversight as to what actually gets published. Meaning i wouldnt want any fool publishing his/her theories on the world. The government would have to compensate in this role and have specialists performing this function for every discipline.

on another note, should the government regulate what is worthy of publication and who is worthy.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (2, Insightful)

notwrong (620413) | more than 7 years ago | (#18199234)

On the other side of the coin, I would think the journals provide some level of oversight as to what actually gets published. Meaning i wouldnt want any fool publishing his/her theories on the world. The government would have to compensate in this role and have specialists performing this function for every discipline.

on another note, should the government regulate what is worthy of publication and who is worthy.

Specialists already provide the oversight about what is actually published. That's precisely what "peer-review" means. Amazing as it may seem, the privately-controlled, for-profit publishers get experts in the field to review every article for free. The reason that most journals have a low crackpot ratio is more due to the peer-review than vigilant editorship IMO.

The editors/editorial boards do have a role, in that they make the initial decision about what is sent out for peer review (particularly for journals with low acceptance rates like Nature or Science). They also make the final call about whether something is printed given the reviews it receives, which can often be mixed. I see no reason that some experts couldn't volunteer to perform this function, or even public servants if the state was providing funding. People working in the field effectively already fulfil this role for peer-reviewed conferences.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197174)

Never confuse the mutually exclusive terms "taxes" and "rights", other then the fact that taxes and death are the only two rights we all share...

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197488)

"taxes and death are the only two rights we all share"

Seeing as attempting suicide is a crime then I'd say that taxes are our only right.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (0)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197388)

Is there really any reason why government-funded research shouldn't be made available to the masses? After all, wasn't it the masses who paid for the research?

Those were American masses, who paid for the research. The talk is about making the information available to the masses world-wide.

The majority of them dislike America and Americans today (multi-polar world, et al.) — and some are actively hostile towards us. It may be nice of us to help them all out anyway, and it may even help improve our standing (don't count on it, though), but we don't owe it to anyone.

Re:Shouldn't it already be this way? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197446)

A sufficient number of the masses have to give a damn first. Then they need to elect officials that actually represent their interests, instead of BIGCO's.

Free Access to information? (2, Funny)

bdr529 (1063398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196136)

Yeah. We remember what happened to the LAST [wikipedia.org] "freely available virtual scientific library available to the entire globe".

Re:Free Access to information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196262)

Well, the Eqyptians didn't have offsite backups.

It's just a thought, but (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196260)

what if somehow we find research data from Area 51 in this new library? I'd like to see that government research online. Don't bother telling me it doesn't exist or should be a secret still, I just would like to see what they have.

UFO Tech Fights Global Warming?! (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18200082)

There's a former Canadian government official calling for [yahoo.com] the release of secret alien technology to fight global warming! I'd be more interested in the power armor, myself.

Two words... (1)

tpjunkie (911544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196266)

Google Research®

Re:Two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196486)

Google research doesn't give you access to the full paper, most of the time you only get the abstract.

Two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18197022)

Butt Secks?

That's great! (1)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196276)

Follow the path of Wikipedia. In 1997 no one believed the biggest encyclopedia in the world would be free (both free as in freedom and free as in beer) in 10 years. You can do the same with science!

I've heard how bad the situation is: Scientist publish their papers in scientific magazines without getting payed. Other scientist review those papers, without being paid either.. but buying those magazines is really expensive. Basically the magazines don't do anything useful for science... they just cost much...

Re:That's great! (2, Interesting)

ericleasemorgan (928146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196490)

I concur! This is idea is way overdue. Do y'all know how much these articles cost in the formally published form? Thousands of dollars a year. If libraries didn't feel compelled to purchase them (librarians are nice), then the journals would dry-up and blow away. With the 'Net there is not nearly as much need for journals. Let open access become the norm, not the exception. --A librarian

Re:That's great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18197130)

As a male librarian, do you get laid a lot? Are all female librarians dominatrixes? Damn, maybe software development was a bad career move.

Rules for pluralization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18199644)

One matrix. => Two matrices.

One dominatrix. => Two dominatrices.

How long will it last? (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196288)

$5 says articles start vanishing as "certain" governments decide that previously unclassified materials are not secret ...

Re:How long will it last? (1)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | more than 7 years ago | (#18198754)

$5 says articles start vanishing as "certain" governments decide that previously unclassified materials are not secret ...

Uhhhh.. The idea is to take articles that are publicly available (albeit expensive) and make them publicly available (and free). This is a non-event on any security dimension.

Re:How long will it last? (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 7 years ago | (#18199714)

Uhhh ... So are a number of previously public documents that were never classified which have since been pulled from library shelves and marked classified. Then there's the issue of studies that would not have received much attention because they were so esoteric and now someone smart and civic-minded publishes the results on something like /. And those results fly in the face of a position a particular government is advocating. Those studies could just as easily be removed from public scrutiny under the guise of public safety.

Democracy (1, Insightful)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196322)

"will last until the people discover they can vote themselves free bread."

Having grown fat on free bread, the people will now vote themselves free information.

Just saying.

Dumbassery (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196776)

When you give someone bread, you have less bread. When you give someone information, you still have it.

The article talks about government funded research. Why shouldn't the people who paid for it have access to it? Why should publishing companies, who often require transfer of copyright and cash payments from authors in order to publish, continue to get fat off public money?

People who think that the public is not entitled to what it pays for, while some random company that adds nothing of value is, are dumbasses. Just saying.

This exaggerates the situation. (2, Informative)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18198884)

"... while some random company that adds nothing of value is"

Publishing books can hardly be seen as not adding value. Could you imagine how combersome and unworkable a system there would be if everyone just printed out
or photocopied raw manuscripts? Plagarism would be rampant and citation would be next to impossible. Also publishing houses provide distribution, and often are the
only outlets for many obscure works and often manage storage of unpurched volumes yet to be sold.

Can web-based systems work? Yes, they probably could but there needs to be a lot of infrastructure in place before it will replace published works. Take for example, hosting? How would this be paid for. Should we require that webhosts agree to permanent, indefinte long term storage for all time? Who will upgrade the media? Paper, degrades far more slowly than electronic media. How about security issues, these are greater for electronic media as the potential to "deface" previously published text is greater and more available to crackers and other miscreants. What about citation? Which website should be cited? What about date of publication, etc.? These are not insignificant issues. I for one, would be lothe to have a government system so centrally organized that some future politicans can begin to restrict or destroy what can or has been published, simply because they find it expedient to do so.

Yes, I believe that in the long run we should be moving to freely available web-based publication for research articles, but to think that it scientific publication is just as simple as posting HTML to a webpage, is a gross oversimplification of the scientiric publication process. Likewise, it counter productive to destroy the business of scientific publication houses, without consideration of the attendant loss of expertise, talent, and resources, without providing a beneficial and well-reasoned pathway for all parties, often quite well-meaning even if money-making enterprises. The entire move will require careful deliberation and quite possibly lare expenditures to complete, even though they will hopefully save money in the long run and make scientific works more accessible.

This is overdue (4, Insightful)

Denial93 (773403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196366)

Scientific literature is now mainly published in digital form and all the infrastructure that paper copies require is increasingly obsolete. Now we still live in the ruins of the time when printing mattered: we have rivalling databases who charge money from "publishers" (just a guy with Office and Outlook Express, in some cases) who in turn charges money from authors. In many cases, having published at a particular journal before or knowing who's probably going to review you has entirely too much influence on what gets accepted. People still insist on distributing their papers as read-only PDFs. The whole system ceases to make sense as a market, and it never made sense as an infrastructure. If all of this luggage was finally done away with and replaced with a state-funded, largely automated, high capacity system that was available from anywhere, lots of highly competent people would have more time to devote to research. The difference such a system would make for scholars is akin to the difference that Wikipedia makes for laymen.

I know what's suggested here wouldn't be quite that, but it'd be the second to last step before we arrive at a system where free application and publication, anonymous worldwide peer review and free access to all publications speed up research considerably.

However, the advantage of this would be greatest for backwater scientific communities in second- and third-world countries. I could see a couple of legislators not want the Russian anthropologists, Kenyan mathematicians or Peruvian veterinarians to catch up on the guys in "their" universities...

Really free globally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196416)

So a poor Kalahari bushmen can somehow magically get access to a book?
Oh, first he needs an Internet connection.
Oh, before that he needs a computer
Oh, before that he needs electricity
OK...um...well..nevermind then

Re:Really free globally? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196694)

Or some friend/do-gooder in CapeTown or even San Francisco goes down to his local Kinkos, prints out the book, and then mails it to this Kalahari address.

Re:Really free globally? (1)

rdmiller3 (29465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197352)

So a poor Kalahari bushmen can somehow magically get access to a book?
Oh, first he needs an Internet connection.
Oh, before that he needs a computer
Oh, before that he needs electricity
OK...um...well..nevermind then

If your Kalahari bushmen get this book,
are they going to read it in English, do you think?

An international knowledge bank needs an international language that works [esperanto.net].

Se via Kalaharaj vilaghanoj akirus tiun libron,
chu ili legos ghin Angla-lingve, vi pensas?

Internacia sciobanko postulas tiun internacian lingvon kiu funkcias. [esperanto.net].

Re:Really free globally? (1)

paulgrant (592593) | more than 7 years ago | (#18199462)

....when is esperanto going to use asian, hindu, arabic or cyrillic lettering?
substituting a mangled romance language for english doesn't make it any more accessible. Not to mention maybe all those different approaches to communication actually contribute something to the creativity in constructing well-thought out experiments to properly phrased hypothesis...like how Asian languages predispose their speakers to character/pattern recognition, and German lends itself to compounding ideas, or English lends itself to forming new ones by verbing (--- see I just made that up by converting a noun into a verb!) I for one welcome diversity. How about getting people off their asses (coughs Americans) and getting them to learn to speak another language besides American; damn know that I think about it, get them to learn English first ;)

Long time coming (5, Insightful)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196456)

I have been thinking about this for a long time. At my public university (in the US) I have heard librarians say that some journals have subscription fees of 10's of thousands of dollars a year. Multiply that by the enormous number of journals that the university library has to subscribe to each year and you are talking 10's of millions of dollars a year. Also, of course the access is restricted to students and faculty of the university; the general public cannot get web access to these journals. Given that the vast majority of the research published is funded by government agencies, this is outrageous. The fees have gotten so bad that the library has had to pick and choose. Just this year my online access to the journal Review of Scientific Instruments was limited to just the last 5 years or so, rather than the entire archive, due to fees. The kicker is that there are paper copies in the physical library that I can go photocopy, but I can't access the articles online because my university can't afford it. There must be reform regarding the publishing of scientific work funded by government agencies. My only concern is that the quality of peer-review must remain intact, but I see no reason for that to change since those who review papers don't get paid anyway.

Long time coming-WikiJournal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196914)

"Also, of course the access is restricted to students and faculty of the university; the general public cannot get web access to these journals. "

I live in a university town. I may not have web access (which isn't the be all of anything anyway), but I can walk down to the university and show my library card and gain access to the material. Also as you already pointed out, the general public isn't the ones paying for the material. Why should they get web access? Your argument could be applied to corporate libraries (some of which do allow public access).

"Given that the vast majority of the research published is funded by government agencies, this is outrageous. "

Apparently you didn't think deep enough. Your university isn't paying for raw research. It's paying for collected and vetted information in a form that's useful to it's purposes. You want raw? You get raw, but I'll bet you're going to have better things to do than collect and vet the information yourself.

"The kicker is that there are paper copies in the physical library that I can go photocopy, but I can't access the articles online because my university can't afford it. There must be reform regarding the publishing of scientific work funded by government agencies."

Well as you said it's YOUR information. There's nothing stopping you from stepping in the shoes of the journals and doing what they do, only better. I'll leave it as an exercise why that hasn't happened on a wide scale.

Re:Long time coming-WikiJournal. (1)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18201608)

I live in a university town. I may not have web access (which isn't the be all of anything anyway), but I can walk down to the university and show my library card and gain access to the material. Also as you already pointed out, the general public isn't the ones paying for the material. Why should they get web access? Your argument could be applied to corporate libraries (some of which do allow public access).
Not everyone lives in a town with a well-stocked university library. Also, some of the libraries on this campus don't allow people without university ID's to enter (for security reasons presumably). Well, it's a public university funded by tax dollars, so actually the general public IS actually paying for the subscriptions, just like they paid for the government funding to perform the research in the first place. At any rate, my point is that no one should have to pay for it, not twice anyway. I didn't mention it in my first post, but the scientists who submit the articles to the journals typically have to pay between one and two thousand dollars per article to the journal. Guess where that money comes from? Grants, which are almost always from publicly-funded agencies (NSF, NIH, various military agencies, etc.).

Apparently you didn't think deep enough. Your university isn't paying for raw research. It's paying for collected and vetted information in a form that's useful to it's purposes. You want raw? You get raw, but I'll bet you're going to have better things to do than collect and vet the information yourself.
Think deeper yourself. Who do you think collects the data and writes the journal articles, the journal? Nope, the scientists who are paid through government grants do that. The vetting is done by scientists in the field who are not paid one cent by the journal for the service, whose salaries are mostly government funded. See the pattern? Journals do some minor editing and typesetting, they create the pdf's of the articles, print the paper copies of the journal, and arrange to have the articles reviewed. That's it. For that relatively minor set of services they charge high fees and restrict the access of the information to the public who paid for it. This is unacceptable.

Already in place for physics (5, Informative)

jfabermit (688258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196460)

The arXiv system (www.arxiv.org) already hosts just about every preprint that comes out in high energy physics, astrophysics, and several related disciplines. Access is completely free, and they currently host 400,000 papers. Needless to say, people post there for a reason: it works really effectively to get research results out to the public quickly and efficiently, and as mentioned before, it's totally free for everyone involved. Open access isn't a theoretical question taking place in a vacuum, it's already underway, and it works just fine, and can even coexist with the refereed journal system, as the physics world has learned over the past decade.

Re:Already in place for physics (2, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18198068)

arXiv is excellent. In fact I believe someone said that it was "the greatest contribution to humanity from string theory thus far" ;)

It is interesting that physics is a pioneer in this field. It may have something to do with their research culture, I have been told; not being a physicist, I can't say. Yet, closer to my field, there is also some positive movement. The closed-access "Journal of Machine Learning" gained competition by the name of the "Journal of Machine Learning Research", where the latter is open-access, leaves copyrights with the authors, etc. In a very short time this has become an important journal.

Re:Already in place for physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18199778)

It is interesting that physics is a pioneer in this field. It may have something to do with their research culture, I have been told; not being a physicist, I can't say.

"The WWW project was started to allow high energy physicists to share data,
news, and documentation. We are very interested in spreading the web to other
areas, and having gateway servers for other data. Collaborators welcome! I'll
post a short summary as a separate article."

-- posting by Tim Berners-Lee in alt.hypertext, Aug 1991 [linky] [google.com].

Re:Already in place for physics (1)

neurostar (578917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18201786)

There is a downside however... it's not peer reviewed.

Although you can use the journals for that...

American Physical Society Free online access (4, Informative)

kwieland in stl (830615) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196466)

I was wondering about this last year. Michele Irwin, International Programs Administrator at the APS Office of International Affairs provided this information:

In 2006, the American Physical Society established a program that provides free on-line access to its journals for non-profit institutions located in eligible countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This program is made available through the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI), http://www.inasp.info/peri/free.shtml [inasp.info]. PERI provides researchers in developing and transitional countries with access to international, scholarly literature from a wide range of disciplines.

The APS began its participation in PERI by offering access to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now that this pilot program has operated successfully for one year, the APS is in the process of expanding access to other developing regions.

The APS also supports the electronic Journals Delivery Service (eJDS), which is administered by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), http://sdu.ictp.it/ep/ejds.html [sdu.ictp.it]. This service is aimed at providing access to scientists at institutions in developing countries that do not have access to sufficient bandwidth, thus, making it impossible or too difficult to download material from the Internet. Through eJDS, scientists receive individual mathematics and physics journal articles via e-mail.

In addition to the programs above, the APS is also one of many publishers that are partners in the Iraqi Virtual Science Library (IVSL), https://www.ivsl.org/ [ivsl.org]. IVSL provides free access to scientific journals to institutions in Iraq. The Society has also established multi-institutional agreements (consortia) in many countries to help broaden access to institutions that might otherwise be unable to afford or gain access.

Re:American Physical Society Free online access (1)

awfar (211405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203432)

"In 2006, the American Physical Society established a program that provides free on-line access to its journals for non-profit institutions located in eligible countries in Sub-Saharan Africa...."

I am in rural America, an American, I can't get easy access to the "American Physical Society" or similar journals. No job, no longer college access, and local library are incompetent and callous.

I don't want an institution to manage access for me.

Anyone have links, pointers to access?

Directory of Open Access Journals? (4, Informative)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196624)

www.doaj.org - directory of open access journals

If only they could use this new initiative to pump up the number of journals and full-text index the whole thing, plus the physics/math/computer science index over at www.arxiv.org, you'd have a good start towards a single, comprehensive index.

Obligatory nitpick with summary (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196900)

Interesting, but what if I want to see papers from real science, not virtual science?

("Free Global Science Virtual Library" might have been a better choice.)

Even to the enemies? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197278)

This is, probably, not enough to outweight the benefits, but is not anybody concerned about our sworn enemies using our scientific advances against us?

They already do that, but they want more [boston.com]...

Re:Even to the enemies? (1)

cosmocain (1060326) | more than 7 years ago | (#18198066)

you even could look up the latest papers on paranoia, duh...

did i miss the point where TFA mentioned publishing classified information? nobody wants to publish the construction plans of the latest AntiWeapenOfMassDestructionWeaponOfMassDestruction (AWOMDWOMD(tm)) ...

Re:Even to the enemies? (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204204)

but is not anybody concerned about our sworn enemies using our scientific advances against us?

Given the quality of papers, giving them access would really slow them down.

Seriously, I know you stay up late at night worrying about how some religious fanatics will suddenly figure out how to use Fibonacci numbers to solve the Riemann Hypothesis and thus build their Gizmatron that will destroy all, but somehow, it doesn't bother me.

And pray tell, who is this "our" in "our scientific advances"?

Another "DUH!" moment... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197284)

FTA: Notwithstanding the momentum toward open access, some barriers remain.
First, many conventional publishers actively oppose open access, fearful that it will cut into their profitability.


Pretty much sums it up.

Indeed, soon after the launch of the European petition, Nature reported that publishers were preparing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to counter open access support with a message that equates public access to government censorship.

Distortion and distraction. Can we expect anything else from this crowd?

(plU@s one Informative) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18197312)

OS don't fear the All major marketing see... The number ver7 sick and its

Free Global Virtual Scientific (3, Funny)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 7 years ago | (#18197332)

I haven't seen that many adjectives in a row since my wife's last order at Starbucks...

What about peer review? (3, Insightful)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18198656)

I'm all for greater access to academic publications. However, there is a problem which might be aggrevated. Good publications rely on good reviewers, the better the reviewers the better the output. Currently, the continuuing increase in academic publications is putting more and more pressure on reviewers and it is increasingly common for prospective reviewers to either ignore or refuse requests. If this Virtual Scientific Library increases capacity further then this may well undermine the integrity of peer reviewed research.

Moreover, my concern is that a Virtual Scientific Library will will not emphasise where (i.e. which journal) a paper was published and therefore the rigour of the review process. Instead we'll end up with average research on an equal footing with research that deserves maximum respect.

So, yes to a Virtual Scientific Library but can we have it based on Slashcode please but with moderation linked to expertise?

Good idea, but could be hard to implement (3, Informative)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | more than 7 years ago | (#18199312)

Nobody has yet mentioned the reason expensive journals persist in an era of cheap typesetting and distribution. It's because they provide two (inter-related) things to the science community:

  1. Quality control. For the good journals, when you submit an article it is typically reviewed (anonymously) by at least three of your peers, who make comments that are forwarded to you for response. You either argue your case against the reviewers or change your paper to accommodate. Then the reviewers see your counterarguments and/or changes and make further comments, etc. Sitting in the middle of this are 1-2 (very knowledgeable) editors refereeing the process, and your paper doesn't get published until they approve it. (This large amount of back-and-forth also contributes to high cost.) Sometimes this review process can take 6 months or longer to complete, which is why preprint sites like arXiv have flourished. ArXiv has taken many months out of the cycle time of the scientific process. But since anybody can post to arXiv, a lot of the papers there are frankly pretty kooky and would never make it through peer review.
  2. A reputational mechanism. Because of #1 it's a big deal to publish in a high-quality journal. Academics typically cannot directly evaluate their peers in different fields -- topics are very specialized in modern research -- but all physicists know that Physical Review Letters is a good journal, and if a colleague has published there several times it says something about his or her ability. By contrast, the number of preprints posted on arXiv carries no reputational value.

I agree the current system is bad and needs to be changed. My point is that it isn't so simple a problem to solve as many Slashdotters might believe. We're talking here about one of the primary mechanisms influencing people's research careers (which jobs they get, whether they get grant funding, which awards they win). If the money gets sucked out of publishing and the peer review process that this funds goes away, something will need to take its place as a QC mechanism for science.

price has little to do with reliability (3, Interesting)

Submarine (12319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18199472)

"Nobody has yet mentioned the reason expensive journals persist in an era of cheap typesetting and distribution. It's because they provide two (inter-related) things to the science community: Quality control. For the good journals, when you submit an article it is typically reviewed (anonymously) by at least three of your peers, who make comments that are forwarded to you for response. You either argue your case against the reviewers or change your paper to accommodate."

Peer review has little to do with the price of the publications. Referees are not paid by the publisher of the journal (I know this because I've refereed a bunch of papers and never got anything more than a "thank you" note.)

There are enormous price differences between peer-reviewed journals. Some first-class journals in computer science, such as the Journal of the ACM, cost about 200 a year, while some other journals cost as much as 5000. The difference is that the former are published by nonprofits (scientific or technical societies) while the latter are published by for-profit entities, who charge universities through their nose.

A solution, yet unimplemented, would be to have editorial boards read and validate articles that are published on sites such as arXiv.org

Repeat: what's important is the editorial board, not the publisher.

(Shameless plug: the French research agency CNRS has a nice site for open publication: http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/index.php?langue=e n [archives-ouvertes.fr] )

price has little to do with money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18200452)

"There are enormous price differences between peer-reviewed journals. Some first-class journals in computer science, such as the Journal of the ACM, cost about 200 a year, while some other journals cost as much as 5000. The difference is that the former are published by nonprofits (scientific or technical societies) while the latter are published by for-profit entities, who charge universities through their nose."

So non-profits are doing everything free with no source of funding. e.g. donations, membership fees? If they are then to make a more fair comparison one needs to take that into account. Out the nose or out the ass, it all takes money.

"A solution, yet unimplemented, would be to have editorial boards read and validate articles that are published on sites such as arXiv.org"

And these editorial boards likewise aren't going to receive any kind of money from any source? Is there any particular reason slashdot believes that the world doesn't require money?

Re:price has little to do with money. (1)

John Newman (444192) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203214)

And these editorial boards likewise aren't going to receive any kind of money from any source? Is there any particular reason slashdot believes that the world doesn't require money?
1. Open access != no revenue. The emerging model is for scientists to pay a slightly higher page charge. But note that most pay-access journals have these charges anyway, and the odd $1000 to publish an article in PLoS is a rounding error in most annual research budgets,
2. Many editors at society journals work for free. These posts are considered prestigious, and are a good way to make professional friends. There hasn't been any shortage of volunteers. Universities universally support this use of researcher's time, because it adds to the department's and university's prestige.

Re:price has little to do with money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18203572)

"2. Many editors at society journals work for free"

Saying they work for free is like saying Windows is free just because it's not a line-item. The editor is getting money from some source, even if it isn't directly to do editing, but is for his OTHER job. That was my point.

"1. Open access != no revenue. The emerging model is for scientists to pay a slightly higher page charge. But note that most pay-access journals have these charges anyway, and the odd $1000 to publish an article in PLoS is a rounding error in most annual research budgets,"

Correct but your original statement complains about "paying through the nose" while ignoring the fact that the lower cost journals are lower cost because someone else is paying part of the cost. A hidden source, and it would be a fairer comparison to take all into account regardless of who pays it.

You may find that the sum of "hidden source" plus "public cost" = true cost is close to "charging out the nose" were there's no hidden source of funds to distort things.

Re:price has little to do with money. (1)

Dean Hougen (970749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18203526)

There are enormous price differences between peer-reviewed journals. Some first-class journals in computer science, such as the Journal of the ACM, cost about 200 a year, while some other journals cost as much as 5000. The difference is that the former are published by nonprofits (scientific or technical societies) while the latter are published by for-profit entities, who charge universities through their nose.

What is more, some first-class journals [mit.edu] and conference proceedings [roboticsproceedings.org] in CS are completely free and persistently available on-line. Some of these [jair.org] have been this way for more than a decade now!

A solution, yet unimplemented, would be to have editorial boards read and validate articles that are published on sites such as arXiv.org

Which is exactly why these free and open but reviewed and edited online sources are much better than arXiv.

And these editorial boards likewise aren't going to receive any kind of money from any source? Is there any particular reason slashdot believes that the world doesn't require money?

Yep, that is right, nobody pays the editorial boards, just as nobody pays the reviewers. We do it because we are saints. Also, you are right, slashdot is one big groupthink, which is why nobody ever disagrees with anybody here.

Of course, back in realityland, reviewers do get paid. They don't get paid by publishers, they get paid by their universities. No, not per review or anything. However, at a typical research university, each prof is expected to spend something like 50% of his or her time doing research, 50% of his or her time teaching, and 10% of his or her time doing service. (Does this add up to more than 100%? Well, there is a reason we work more than 40 hours per week.) Guess what? Reviewing papers can be counted as service. So can editing (or helping to edit) a journal.

So, the people doing the work are covered. The websites? These are pretty small and low traffic and the costs can be easily covered by Universities for the prestige of it. The only cost that isn't covered at this point is for the printed copies to go into University archives and these can be farmed out to publishing companies that will sell them to libraries for a couple hundred dollars per year. If people become convinced they don't need these, that cost will vanish.

The only reason more journals and conferences haven't gone this route is momentum. To start up a new journal or conference, or to switch an existing one to open, online access takes time and effort. Did I mention we already work long hours? You don't need massive government warehouses of information. You just need to pay a few faculty a couple of semesters per journal you want created/switched over and we'll take it from there. We want our research to be available to everyone.

Dean

Re:Good idea, but could be hard to implement (1)

Vireo (190514) | more than 7 years ago | (#18200288)

An open, electronic journal could work with a moderation system not unlike Slashdot, or even better, Everything2 [everything2.org]. User could get registered, and acquire reputation by writing articles having good reviews. Moderation systems work well for comments and E2 nodes; why not for scientific articles?

Citation and references would also offer a dizzying world of possibilities for moderating, ranking and following up on research. It would be trivial to automatically add to each article a list of articles that link back to it. Just think what Google or any search engine would do with such an open database (I know Google Scholar [google.com], but right now, it mostly indexes abstracts and cannot follow much in terms of references and citations).

I for one know I would read and write much more articles in such a system, and be much more active in general in my scientific community. Performing bibliography work when you can access on the spot every reference is so fast and effective, it's just a pity that right now, it litterally bleeds off by University's library.

A logical follow-up (1)

Asmodai (13932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18204068)

Years ago this was already set in motion through the Berlin Declaration (http://oa.mpg.de/openaccess-berlin/berlindeclarat ion.html).

Currently in the Netherlands almost all major universities have repositories for their papers, theses, et cetera. Typically runs software like DSpace (www.dspace.org) or others (Chesire3, et cetera).

See http://www.opendoar.org/ [opendoar.org] for open access repositories.
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