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MIT Drops DRM-Laden Journal Subscription

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the whose-intellectual-property? dept.

Education 141

Gibbs-Duhem writes with news that MIT has dropped its subscription to the Society of Automotive Engineers' web-based database of technical papers over the issue of DRM. The SAE refuses to allow any online access except through an Adobe DRM plugin that limits use and does not run on Linux or Unix. Also, the SAE refuses to let its papers even be indexed on any site but their own. SAE's use of DRM is peculiar to say the least, as they get their content for free from the researchers who actually do the work. And those researchers have choices as to where they send their work, and some of the MIT faculty are pretty vocal about it. From the MIT Library News: "'It's a step backwards,' says Professor Wai Cheng, SAE fellow and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, who feels strongly enough about the implications of DRM that he has asked to be added to the agenda of the upcoming SAE Publication Board meeting in April, when he will address this topic."

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A Step Forward (3, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421871)

The issues of academic journals is becoming hugely problematic. Many institutions cannot afford subscriptions and the journals claim they have to charge such rates in order to stay in business. I would suggest that the enormous proliferation of specialized journals indicates that they in actuality are quite profitable. For those that do not know, there are also costs associated with publication in those same journals including costs for publishing images that can be stunningly high. One has to wonder just what the problem is with such high costs when organizations like PLOS [plos.org] and Molecular Vision [molvis.org] have so much lower costs of entry, publication and distribution.

Note: I don't necessarily have a problem with profitability and am perfectly happy with a capitalistic approach to academic journals. However, what I *do* have a problem with is outrageous usage policies including DRM that is more problematic and slows progress, unfairly leveraged (illegal) monopolies, preventing fair usage and profiting from publicly funded science and engineering without fairly compensating the paying public or providing access to resources that have been paid in full for.

Re:A Step Forward (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422009)

Since the researchers are rarely paid anything (and in some cases pay to be published!) and the reviewers are rarely paid much if anything I think the only costs are in profit and production and distribution. In the age of the internet production and distribution costs have been reduced to such a degree that it literally costs fractions of a penny per page. The answer to me is obvious, more online distribution of small (and not so small) journals. Yes dead tree is nice at times, but the content indexing and searching facilities of electronic media far outweigh the deadtree advantages, at least for me.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422275)

>I think the only costs are in profit and production and distribution

Profit is one hard cost to stomach, isn't it. Anyway, some of us still enjoy our monthly deadtree journal, though admittedly all mine are from the MAA [maa.org] . There's something about rarity that makes them feel more important.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422309)

Yes dead tree is nice at times, but the content indexing and searching facilities of electronic media far outweigh the deadtree advantages, at least for me.


Agreed, and if you want it on a deadtree you can always print it for offline reading. Not nearly as easy to get it back digital (yeah, you could scan paper into an image, but OCR really isn't where it needs to be for that to be viable for searching and indexing)

Re:A Step Forward (3, Insightful)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422321)

The whole issue of academic publications needs a thoroughly good rethink. There's far too much emphasis placed on fat CVs bulging with papers that no one will ever read. And seriously, on some academic's web pages the first thing you'll read is about some Prof's 200 or so publications. I feel that this emphasis on quantity over quality, as much as anything, is creating a market for more journals and in turn pushing academic institutions to subscribe to them. Reduce the emphasis on quantity then reviewers will be happier and journals will be less prone to screw around.

Re:A Step Forward (3, Interesting)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423807)

There's far too much emphasis placed on fat CVs bulging with papers that no one will ever read.

Actually, there's an increasing emphasis on the number of citations you get on your publications. Making the paper freely available online has been shown (by someone from Google, but can't find the reference) to increase citation rates dramatically.

And seriously, on some academic's web pages the first thing you'll read is about some Prof's 200 or so publications.

These are generally papers written by students. If the prof's been around for a while, it makes sense that he's co-authored hundreds of papers with his students.

Reduce the emphasis on quantity then reviewers will be happier and journals will be less prone to screw around.

Not sure what that would change for journals. What I think would be interesting to emphasise is short (letter-type) papers where researchers can make public minor, but useful results, without the overhead of normal publishing.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

MindKata (957167) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423813)

"needs a thoroughly good rethink"

The way it is currently, the only people who are winning are the bosses who own the submission sites. One of the biggest problems I keep finding is trying to find researchers work. I read about some great new paper then when I try to find it, it turns out its only on some pay to view site. In the end I give up, so the researcher looses out as far less people see their work and I loose out as I can't see their work. I can't afford to pay (out of my own pocket) every time I want to read up on a paper.

This isn't the way to conduct science. The researchers are loosing out.

I would have thought the answer would be for all Universities & Research Centres etc.. to effectively work together by publishing (for free) on a science specific paper publishing kind of wiki site which they could easily setup between them. (Not the wikipedia itself, but one which is dedicated to science paper submissions and able to handle pier reviews etc..)

That way its free and open for everyone to view it and the researchers can get far more coverage of their work.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422327)

There is one more cost: management. The papers don't get from researchers to reviewers for free. They maintain an office, and a number of people work in that office. At least one of them is probably a full-time PhD; it's not just secretaries putting things in the mailbox. And remember that a secretary making $20k per year really costs $40k, by the time you've paid FICA, health insurance, 401(k), etc. The PhD probably costs considerably more.

I don't know how much that costs. Probably a few hundred thousand a year. For a journal with limited distribution, that works out to a non-trivial amount per copy.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422545)

There is one more cost: management.
Sure, there may be a lot of costs associated with printing a publication. The problem is, all other publications have the same, if not more, costs. Yet, they are able to sell at a lot lower costs. More over, many other publications, which may not have as many publications, more advertisement, have a more frequent publishing cycle and actually pay the people who write the articles.

Many of these technical publications take the cake from both sides. They charge the people who write the articles and they charge the people who buy the journal. Their taking it from both sides of the distribution channel.

Re:A Step Forward (0, Flamebait)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422631)

Manpower that could be redeployed at a greater overall utility sweeping dogshit off the streets. Just to clarify, the hound mounds are second priority, to do after they've cleaned away all the IP lawyers.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423385)

The papers don't get from researchers to reviewers for free.

Bullshit. All of the editors for several Elsevier journals with which I'm familiar deal with the journal entirely through their web site. All of the papers are submitted as PDF files. All of the reviewers get their papers as PDF files. All of my contact with reviewers and those that submit papers is done through an interface on the Elsevier web page that has to be freeware, it's so awful. The last time I actually had to talk to a human being at any of these journals is about three years ago when I couldn't log into their horrible database. It took about 2 weeks for someone to get back to me, and all they did was delete my account and have me create it again.

So yes, I guess it costs something for web hosting, and a little something (though I really hope not much) for the development of the horrible web site and database, and maybe a few hundred a year for a service contract with someone who's never seen any of the journals (although it's more likely an unpaid intern) and maybe, maybe a nice bit of cash to some overpaid dinosaur who runs the occasional conference, but let's be honest - the costs are in printing all that indecipherable math on glossy paper, which is a complete waste because most of the people who are going to read it are going to read photocopies anyway.

You bet, it's time to rethink the entire academic publication mess. Maybe if the mechanism for getting science on paper gets streamlined a bit, it might be a little harder for the dimwits on the Right to drum up the suspicion of science which is second only to the suspicion of media as an overarching meme of their existence.

I was talking to someone the other day about an article that was in a very reputable journal, and I assume the guy was an avid listener to talk radio because although this article was about a non-controversial, non-political subject, his reaction was "you believe all the stuff that comes from scientists these days?" Holy shit, something in the water is making people stupid. I mean, just because Nature doesn't publish anything that supports the Earth being 6000 years old doesn't mean that all Science is rigged to promote a Commie agenda. There is a frightening effort afoot to create fear, even hatred of Science, but rest assured, big business and the military will still manage somehow.

Re:A Step Forward (4, Interesting)

pq (42856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18424609)

All of the editors for several Elsevier journals with which I'm familiar deal with the journal entirely through their web site. All of the papers are submitted as PDF files. All of the reviewers get their papers as PDF files. All of my contact with reviewers and those that submit papers is done through an interface on the Elsevier web page that has to be freeware, it's so awful.

I've been an editor for an Elsevier journal, and I second everything the parent says, except for the web interface being freeware. That web interface - oh my God - is so bad that no self-respecting developer could have released it as freeware. It has got to be a consultant or in-house hack job. It is simply absurdly bad.

Strangely, the non-profit University of Chicago journals I've refereed for don't seem to have this problem, only the for-profit Elsevier ones. Make of that what you will.

Everything always looks easier from the outside (1, Interesting)

maggard (5579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422647)

I've had several friends in academic journal publishing, and so have heard a bit of this from their side:

Editing is hard work. Maintaining a consistently high quality of writing, articles that are appropriately in-depth but accessible to the readership, sniffing out the studies that define or redefine the field.

Copy editing is brutal. Technical terms abound, the language mustn't be turgid but a certain level of gravitas is often excpected, understanding those nuances is a specialized skill.

Typsesetting can be a misery when working with formulas & like content that has gone through several cycles of review & fine-tuning. Journals shouldn't read like ransom notes.

Reviewers do cost. Finding them, vetting them, coordinating them.

Illustrations are worth a thousand words, but a consistently good technical illustrator is a rare bird to be treasured.

Fact-checking, background-reviews, identifying possible conflicts-of-interest, that's a lot of hard-work administrivia that is expected now.

Then there are the basic internal administrative costs of keeping the lights on, payroll met, licensing the typefaces, getting the parking lot snowplowed, the PCs virus-free, handling the morass of profit/non-profit taxes & exemptions, all are yet more staff.

Subscriber services is everyone's horror. What do you do when a professor or researcher passes out their personal subscription password to everyone, and suddenly you've got 60 sites around the world using that password? Or when Harvard wants a campus-wide subscription, but has several dozen domains folks will be coming in from, not to mention home users?

And printing on dead-trees is an expensive proposition, but still the media-of-record. In-house the press is easily a million dollars, not to mention paper, ink, staff, space, insurance, maintenance, distribution, capitol depreciation, etc. Reprints can earn top dollar but those require quality printing and must be accounted for.

Blithely thinking this can all be replaced with a few emails and a database is probably woefully optimistic. Doubtless there is room for journals produced thus, but ones with an active editorial process and rather richer content are probably around for while too; their ecological niche is still a valuable one to their communities.

Re:Everything always looks easier from the outside (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422993)

Typesetting of mathematical formulas is piss easy, and the bunch that produces them most (mathematicians and physicists) all use TeX/LaTeX anyway. In the department where I work the print on paper is *not* the media of record. Once the initial article has been read that is it. From then on it will be kept on file as a PDF. Software like Endnote will even kept this all together for you in a nice searchable database, or you can just use something like Google Desktop search.

Our institution (a large UK university) as lots of site licenses for journals. If you want to access them off campus you either setup a VPN connection or use the Citrix Metaframe servers. It's hardly rocket science.

Re:Everything always looks easier from the outside (5, Insightful)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423059)

(note, I'm talking about scientific journals, like the IEEE ones)

Editing is hard work. Maintaining a consistently high quality of writing, articles that are appropriately in-depth but accessible to the readership, sniffing out the studies that define or redefine the field.

The writing is actually done by authors -- who get no monetary compensation.

Typsesetting can be a misery when working with formulas & like content that has gone through several cycles of review & fine-tuning. Journals shouldn't read like ransom notes.

Most authors submit LaTeX, which is what the journals use I believe.

Reviewers do cost. Finding them, vetting them, coordinating them.

No they don't. I've so far reviewed dozens of paper and still haven't received anything. Not that I'm expecting a compensation, just saying the reviewers aren't being paid (they couldn't afford to pay them anyway).

Illustrations are worth a thousand words, but a consistently good technical illustrator is a rare bird to be treasured.

Except they don't make the illustrations, the authors provide them. Worse, you send them a nice, clean vector figure (eps) and all they do is convert it to a raster image.

Fact-checking, background-reviews, identifying possible conflicts-of-interest, that's a lot of hard-work administrivia that is expected now.

Facts are checked by the reviewers. Conflicts-of-interest are generally not handled, or if they are, it's often post-publication.

Then there are the basic internal administrative costs of keeping the lights on, payroll met, licensing the typefaces, getting the parking lot snowplowed, the PCs virus-free, handling the morass of profit/non-profit taxes & exemptions, all are yet more staff.

That's about the only real cost here, but it can't explain the exorbitant fees for journals.

Subscriber services is everyone's horror. What do you do when a professor or researcher passes out their personal subscription password to everyone, and suddenly you've got 60 sites around the world using that password? Or when Harvard wants a campus-wide subscription, but has several dozen domains folks will be coming in from, not to mention home users?

Maybe the reason people share access is because it's so damn expensive in the first place. My current employer has a subscription to IEEE (and other) journals. If it weren't for that, I'd have to (theoretically) pay 30$ every time there's a journal paper I'd like to look at, not even knowing whether it's useful! It's just ridiculous.

And printing on dead-trees is an expensive proposition, but still the media-of-record. In-house the press is easily a million dollars, not to mention paper, ink, staff, space, insurance, maintenance, distribution, capitol depreciation, etc. Reprints can earn top dollar but those require quality printing and must be accounted for.

In fine if they charge for paper copies. The libraries that want those can pay for that. I just want electronic access, which costs nearly nothing.

Blithely thinking this can all be replaced with a few emails and a database is probably woefully optimistic. Doubtless there is room for journals produced thus, but ones with an active editorial process and rather richer content are probably around for while too; their ecological niche is still a valuable one to their communities.

The most valuable parts of the process (authoring and reviewing) are already done for free. I don't think the associate editors get paid either, so I strongly believe an open process is now possible with just a bit of funding (same kind of funding as many open-source projects get).

Re:Everything always looks easier from the outside (1)

just_because_it's_ir (621364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18424193)

To reply to these points:

Editing, refereeing, and managing the cost of peer review

This is not a trivial cost, indeed, it is a substantial cost. The "first copy cost" of a journal I worked for was 80% of the total cost (that's getting the content ready for the printers, not the cost of printing or distribution). This doesn't mean that printing online is 20% cheaper either: the cost of setting up the web version of the content, and managing access, was higher than the cost of setting up the press. In other words, publishing online alone does not significantly cut the cost of producing the journal. To publish online and in print costs significantly more.

Why are the costs so high? Although journal referees do not get paid, there are plenty of costs involved in peer review. Articles have to be vetted before being sent out to referee, referees have to be found, and chased, editorial decisions have to made, and the entire process has to be administered. Electronic content submission makes life easier and cheaper, but not substantially so. The peer review process costs, for major journals, millions of dollars a year. Then there are the costs for editing (good scientist != good writer), proof reading and sub-editing (there are always edits, and these have to be approved etc., which slows down the process and adds to admin. costs as well), and typesetting (which has to be done regardless of the format the document was submitted in). This is not a cheap process by any means.

Do science journals cost too much?

Generally, yes. Despite the high costs of academic publishing, the prices charged for content are often exorbitant, although some publishers are much better than others. However, there are reasons for this that go beyond simple commercial greed. The advertising revenue from online content is still very small, and display advertising brings in a large amount of any print journal's revenue. Moreover, many journals are/were dependent on revenue from classified advertising (job vacancies), which is becoming less and less necessary for the universities and companies who used to rely on them. In addition, site-wide online subscriptions lead to a drop in personal subscriptions, which takes away further revenue and (equally importantly) advertising dollars.

The print journal has made money for 150 years, and the web is new; no-one's quite sure how journal publication will work in 20 years time. Given the speed of all this change, you can see why many publishers are worried about the long-term future, and are hiking up prices now.

This does not justify the rise in prices we have seen over the past few years, but it does, I hope, explain some of it. Non-commercial open-source-style approaches are being tried, but there are many barriers to their success. Among these: the high cost of academic publishing has to be bourne by someone; and academic careers and salaries (which is the path I'm on now) are often defined by where work is published. I hope they succeed, but I don't think it'll happen soon. More likely we'll see a flattening-out of costs as the market stabilises, and both institutions and publishers work out how much site licenses are really worth.

Re:Everything always looks easier from the outside (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18424393)

Although journal referees do not get paid, there are plenty of costs involved in peer review. Articles have to be vetted before being sent out to referee, referees have to be found, and chased, editorial decisions have to made, and the entire process has to be administered.

This is done by associate editors, who get paid very little, if at all.

The peer review process costs, for major journals, millions of dollars a year.

Care to detail where these millions go?

Then there are the costs for editing (good scientist != good writer), proof reading and sub-editing (there are always edits, and these have to be approved etc., which slows down the process and adds to admin. costs as well), and typesetting (which has to be done regardless of the format the document was submitted in). This is not a cheap process by any means.

I haven't seen much editing/typesetting on the papers I've published. Even then, this only applies to journals. Conference proceedings are (in my field) at least as important and yet they are "published" with zero editing. They just take the author's manuscript and add the page number. Yet, they'll charge $10+ to get a copy. Even for journals, I'm willing to live with non-edited papers if it means I can actually have access to it.

Given the speed of all this change, you can see why many publishers are worried about the long-term future, and are hiking up prices now.

If that's indeed the case, I couldn't think of a more stupid move than that -- making sure alternatives appear even more interesting.

Non-commercial open-source-style approaches are being tried, but there are many barriers to their success.

I think the main barrier is journal reputation. Once an "open" journal gets a good reputation in a field (and it has happened at least in physics I'm being told), I don't see how the "old" publishers can compete with that.

Re:Everything always looks easier from the outside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18423219)

Copy editing is brutal. Technical terms abound, the language mustn't be turgid but a certain level of gravitas is often excpected, understanding those nuances is a specialized skill.
True, but journals do not do copy editing any more. Or should I say, most of them don't. Most journal just publish whatever they receive, after authors make changes requested by the referees. That is the practice in my field - and I suppose it is fairy typical.
In fact, last weeek I purchased a monograph published by a supposedly reputable scientific publisher. The book obviously was not copy edited (tons of typos all over the place). If they don't even bother to copy edit books, what can you expect from journal articles...

Re:Everything always looks easier from the outside (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18423949)

True, but journals do not do copy editing any more.

Really? Please tell that to the full-time copy-editor who works in the office next door to me at a moderate-sized biomedical journal. I'm sure he'd be pleased to know that some anonymous slashdotter feels that he doesn't do anything.

And as is typically the case with these things, maggard's comment is pretty much spot-on, yet he's been modded down as overrated. Meanwhile, jmv's response, which clearly shows that he's never worked in publishing, gets modded up to +5. While I understand and agree with many of the sentiments expressed here, it's clear that almost none of you have any idea what goes on once you've received that "article accepted" letter. You can all sit around and have your little group mental masturbation about "how things should be", all the while ignoring the reality of the situation.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422649)


I would much rather publish in online journals, but dead tree is better respected generally.

At the same time, students don't go get hard copies. If it isn't online it does not exist.

A buddy brought up the EMP problem: in WW III, a nuke over the US will break a lot of computers. Maybe the online journals go away, but maybe the dead tree survive the apocalypse. Think Planet of the Apes.

Re:A Step Forward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18424267)

Keep the journals in an optical jukebox of DVD-Rs with a large RAID disk cache. If WW III happens, the DVDs will survive. You'll probably have the electronics factories up and running again and making replacement hardware before anybody worries about searching for some 200x paper on String theory.

OK, you probably would want to keep paper copies of Pathology journals for that case, but otherwise...

Re:A Step Forward (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422847)

I used to work for SAE a few years ago. Though I can't comment in any official capacity, I'd like to clear a couple of things up:

The comments here that suggest that SAE gets all this work for nothing are uninformed. It is true that researchers donate their time to standard creation, but SAE spends a great of money sponsoring the publication of technical articles, including but not limited to:

* Document standardization and editing - SAE employs many professional editors that turn papers into defined standards. If you'd ever seen the amount of time spent on a DTD for the standard, you'd understand the investment here.

* Conferences - SAE hosts and sponsors conferences and meetings with technical standard creators. The costs of bringing researchers together are not tiny, to say the least.

* Delivery systems - The IT systems and staff that deliver these standards in electronic format sure aren't free. The dead-tree formats were also associated with enormous production costs.

* Education - SAE sponsors quite a lot of educational programs for K-12 up into college, Formula SAE, Baja SAE, Aero Design SAE, Clean Snowmobile Challenge, or Supermileage. They also provide scholarships and loans to students. This is not cheap at all.

Regarding the DRM (this was implemented well after I left) - It was unfortunately not at all uncommon for our standards to be purchased online and then re-sold by various unsavory third parties. It was also not at all uncommon for the electronic versions of these technical documents to be downloaded and then placed on public FTP servers for download by lots of people who didn't buy them, in violation of the terms of sale.

As for indexing: SAE has a product line that involves selling this index in dead-tree format. This is the reason that SAE does not allow indexing of their technical document list. In my own personal opinion (not SAE's!), this never made any sense to me at all. Would you go to a restaurant that made you pay to look at the menu?

Anyway, probably a lot has changed since I left, but hopefully this gives everyone a bit of insight.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

Sibko (1036168) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423737)

A different way of doing things?

Maybe instead of printing a monthly edition of the journal, publishers could switch to an annual edition containing all the significant content of that year, while they distribute an online monthly version at virtually no cost.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422039)

Note: I don't necessarily have a problem with profitability and am perfectly happy with a capitalistic approach to academic journals. ...

I feel the same way. Sometimes, it's a good idea to hire the services of a for-profit group, and sometimes it's not. Contributors to SAE journals need to ask of the publisher, "Why should we still use you? What value are you providing?" Likely, the publisher used to do something useful, back when it was hard to aggregate the relevant information in one place, but now the internet has made them obsolete. I could understand if authors want to make money from the work, but that's not the case here.

It's not an issue of the rightness of profit; it's an issue of whether this for-profit publisher is still useful.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

metagnat (104512) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422163)

It's possible that the for-profit publisher might still be useful as a filter. If everyone were to self-publish on the web, it would be difficult to sort the signal from the noise.

-MG

Re:A Step Forward (2, Insightful)

Drawkcab (550036) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422245)

Filters are useful, but those exist cheaply on the web too. The web has some powerful tools for self organizing communities. There is plenty of room for free online only journals to develop. Different sites can build their reputation for quality standards just like different paper journals have. The peer review process can still be handled very much like it is now. Switching to free online solutions doesn't have to mean total anarchy where Google is the only tool for finding papers with no means of assessing the credible from garbage.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422703)

If everyone were to self-publish on the web, it would be difficult to sort the signal from the noise.
Maybe there could be a system where other academics in the same field assign scores (positive or negative) to papers. Then you could filter or sort by the score. Except in practical terms it couldn't work. How would you choose the people to act as the judges? My first idea was to base it on the scores of their own papers, but on second thoughts that's just unworkable.

Re:A Step Forward (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422203)

>>I don't necessarily have a problem with profitability and am perfectly happy with a capitalistic approach to academic journals.

Oh would you shut the fuck up, you communist socialist asshole.

Re:A Step Forward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422605)

Supporters of I"P" monopolies are the socialists, here (usually corporate-welfare fans) : The entire stated purpose of I"P" is socialistic: The poor, starving creators couldn't compete in a real free market, so let's give 'em a monopoly.

Re:A Step Forward (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422943)

Feel free to explain how someone who made the investments necessary to create something (be that time, money, materials, ideas, or whatever) can possibly compete against someone who simply takes those fruits and sells them or gives them away? While you're at it, please explain where the incentive to do the creation in the first place then appears.

Impact factor is the problem? (1)

Adam Hazzlebank (970369) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423923)

The first thing anyone asks when your thinking about publishing a paper or evaluating the work of a researcher outside your area is "What the impact factor of the journal?". Impact factor is a measurement of the number of citations per article in a given journal and does give some idea of how "important" or "well read" a journal is. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_factor [wikipedia.org]

The problem is that once a journal has a high impact factor it's likely to sustain it, the best work will get sent there first as a high impact factor journal (like say Nature) looks good on your CV. I've been in situations where I've hated many of the journals policies (on copyright etc.) but still submitted to them because, well it's not just my name on the paper and everyone wants a higher impact factor journal.

This means there is little pressure on journals to have "nice" policies. Everyone wants to read the journal because it's where the best work goes (so you have to have a subscription) and everyone wants to publish it in (because it looks good). This results in a situation where they can charge way over costs for subscription and publication (and do things like DRM which annoy people) and people will still use them.

The solution? Well it could well be for us to stop thinking about impact factors and look at the merit of the paper itself. A standard metric based on the number of citations /that/ paper had would be great. That way it wouldn't matter much where you published. I'm not sure how likely this is to happen, it's all too easy just to look at impact factor and say (ahh, this guy must know what he's doing).

Let another DRM flamewar begin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421883)

*hides*

Re:Let another DRM flamewar begin! (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18424667)

Let another DRM flamewar begin!

I'm game.. Here is the first shot.

DRM is incompatibility by design. It lowers value, not increase it.

Example, Linux users can't even use the Adobe Documents in the article. Value $0. Added value due to DRM.. Negative.

Alberto Gonzalez: Bush Flunkie +1, Informative (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422069)

I've reached a point where I feel the need to express my disappointment with Alberto Gonzalez. To begin at the beginning, Gonzalez's victims have been speaking out for years. Unfortunately, their voices have long been silenced by the roar and thunder of Gonzalez's accomplices, who loudly proclaim that the ideas of "freedom" and "Comstockism" are Siamese twins. Regardless of those crapulous proclamations, the truth is that what he is doing is not an innocent, recreational sort of thing. It is a criminal activity, it is an immoral activity, it is a socially destructive activity, and it is a profoundly intrusive activity. In case you don't know, I call upon him to stop his oppression, lies, immorality, and debauchery. I call upon him to be a man of manners, principles, honour, and purity. And finally, I call upon him to forgo his desire to mollycoddle soporific blatherskites. Like I said, the little I've written so far already buttresses the assertion that Gonzalez still labors under the outmoded pretense that skin color means more than skill and gender is more impressive than genius. Am I being too harsh for writing that? Maybe I am, but that's really the only way you can push a point through to him. Allow me to explain. One of his janissaries keeps throwing "scientific" studies at me, claiming they prove that Gonzalez never engages in inerudite, shabby, or quasi-infantile politics. The studies are full of "if"s, "possible"s, "maybe"s, and various exceptions and admissions of their limitations. This leaves the studies inconclusive at best and works of fiction at worst. The only thing these studies can possibly prove is that I'm willing to accept that the ripples of reaction to Gonzalez's nostrums have spread, giving rise to universal calls to take off the kid gloves and vent some real anger at Gonzalez. I'm even willing to accept that most of his snow jobs are slanted in the same ideological fashion, with large amounts of emotional exaggeration and general ignorance. But some reputed -- as opposed to reputable -- members of his band quite adamantly believe that the sun rises just for Gonzalez. I find it rather astonishing that anyone could contend such a thing, but then again, I feel no more personal hatred for Gonzalez than I might feel for a herd of wild animals or a cluster of poisonous reptiles. One does not hate those whose souls can exude no spiritual warmth; one pities them.

Perhaps I find it ironic that Gonzalez calls me illiberal when he's the most illiberal person you'll ever see, but remember that his faculty for deception is so far above anyone else's, it really must be considered different in kind as well as in degree. I recently overheard a couple of wrongheaded, stentorian wimps say that we have too much freedom. Here, again, we encounter the blurred thinking that is characteristic of this Gonzalez-induced era of slogans and propaganda. I understand that his modus operandi is to fan the flames of sesquipedalianism into a planet-spanning inferno, but I can easily see him performing the following macabre acts. First, Gonzalez will incite racial hatred. Then, he will burn his opponents at the stake. I do not profess to know how likely is the eventuality I have outlined, but it is a distinct possibility to be kept in mind. He, already oppressive with his careless offhand remarks, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species -- if separate species we be -- for his reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world. If you think that that's a frightening thought, then consider that if it were up to Gonzalez, schoolchildren would be taught reading, 'riting, and racism.

I would certainly not have thought it possible that the mumpish, sappy leeches who work in Gonzalez's lie factories keep telling us that merit is adequately measured by Gonzalez's methods and qualifications, but it's absolutely true. "What's that?", I hear you ask. "Is it true that Gonzalez should be in better control of his hormones?" Why, yes, it is. I happen to believe that he is absolutely mistaken if he believes that hanging out with rash couch potatoes is a wonderful, culturally enriching experience.

We must worry about two sorts of unregenerate testy-types: insufferable and anti-democratic. Gonzalez is among the former. I've repeatedly pointed out to him that he has a one-track mind. That apparently didn't register with him, though. Oh, well; I guess if Gonzalez were to use more accessible language, then a larger number of people would be able to understand what he's saying. The downside for Gonzalez, of course, is that a larger number of people would also understand that his actions promote a redistribution of wealth. This is always an appealing proposition for Gonzalez's secret agents because much of the redistributed wealth will undoubtedly end up in the hands of the redistributors as a condign reward for their loyalty to Gonzalez.

If anything will free us from the shackles of Gonzalez's wishy-washy, unsophisticated doctrines, it's knowledge of the world as it really is. It's knowledge that if I had to choose between chopping onions and helping him desecrate personal religious objects, I'd be in the kitchen in an instant. Although both alternatives make me cry, the deciding factor for me is that Gonzalez's propositions were never about tolerance and equality. That was just window dressing for the "innocents". Rather, I no longer believe that trends like family breakdown, promiscuity, and violence are random events. Not only are they explicitly glorified and promoted by Gonzalez's pudibund mottos, but I am tired of hearing or reading that might makes right. You know that that is simply not true. Gonzalez doesn't want to acknowledge that he's dumber than dirt. In fact, Gonzalez would rather block all discussion on the subject. I suppose that's because he fervently believes that public opinion is a reliable indicator of what's true and what isn't. This shows that he is not merely mistaken about one little fact among millions of facts but that it's obviously a tragedy that Gonzalez's goal in life is apparently to abet a resurgence of spineless paternalism. Here, I use the word "tragedy" as the philosopher Whitehead used it. Whitehead stated that "the essence of dramatic tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things," which I interpret as saying that Gonzalez's rodomontades are rife with contradictions and difficulties; they're thoroughly petulant, meet no objective criteria, and are unsuited for a supposedly educated population. And as if that weren't enough, I have a tendency to report the more sensational things that Gonzalez is up to, the more shocking things, things like how he wants to challenge all I stand for. And I realize the difficulty that the average person has in coming to grips with that, but his opinions are incompatible with the proclivities of instrumental reason. Gonzalez's stooges probably don't realize that, because it's not mentioned in the funny papers or in the movies. Nevertheless, if he were as bright as he thinks he is, he'd know that he really struck a nerve with me when he said that he has mystical powers of divination and prophecy. That lie is a painful reminder that Gonzalez is not just unpatriotic. He is unbelievably, astronomically unpatriotic. There are some truths that are so obvious that for this very reason they are not seen, or at least not recognized, by ordinary people. One noteworthy example is the truism that Gonzalez's rise to power was not accomplished without a fair amount of backstabbing, skulduggery, and unanticipated and unpredictable reversals of fortune. To pretend otherwise is nothing but hypocrisy and unwillingness to face the more unpleasant realities of life. Admittedly, some of Gonzalez's strictures raise important questions about future social interactions and their relationship to civil liberties. But that's because I can't possibly believe Gonzalez's claim that obscurity, evasiveness, incomprehensibility, indirectness, and ambiguity are marks of depth and brilliance. If someone can convince me otherwise, I'll eat my hat. Heck, I'll eat a whole closetful of hats. That's a pretty safe bet because Gonzalez is trying hard to convince a substantial number of biased, choleric lummoxes to put our liberties at risk by a venom-spouting and dissolute rush to give expression to that which is most destructive and most harmful to society. He presumably believes that the "hundredth-monkey phenomenon" will spontaneously incite malign psychopaths to behave likewise. The reality, however, is that Gonzalez and his trucklers are, by nature, unimaginative, lawless exhibitionists. Not only can that nature not be changed by window-dressing or persiflage, but the central paradox of Gonzalez's perorations, the twist that makes Gonzalez's methods of interpretation so irresistible to ghastly spoiled brats, is that these people truly believe that those of us who oppose Gonzalez would rather run than fight.

Strange, isn't it, how dour clodpolls are always the first to put increased disruptive powers in the hands of the worst kinds of humorless vagabonds I've ever seen? It is no news that I have a New Year's resolution for Gonzalez: He should pick up a book before he jumps to the imperious conclusion that children should get into cars with strangers who wave lots of yummy candy at them. He often starts with a preconceived story and then plugs in supposed "information" in order to create a somewhat believable tale, pure and simple.

Gonzalez likes to cite poll results that "prove" that there is an international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. Really? Have you ever been contacted by one of his pollsters? Chances are good that you never have been contacted and never will be. Otherwise, the polls would show that even Gonzalez's secret police are afraid that Gonzalez will require religious services around the world to begin with "Gonzalez is great; Gonzalez is good; we thank Gonzalez for our daily food" before long. I have seen their fear manifested over and over again, and it is further evidence that I am not embarrassed to admit that I have neither the training, the experience, the license, nor the clinical setting necessary to properly force Gonzalez into early retirement. Nevertheless, I unmistakably do have the will to keep our courage up. That's why I maintain that we must shoo Gonzalez away like the annoying bug that he is. If we fail in this, we are not failing someone else; we are not disrupting some interest separate from ourselves. Rather, it is we who suffer when we neglect to observe that we should not concern ourselves with Gonzalez's putative virtue or vice. Rather, we should concern ourselves with our own welfare and with the fact that Gonzalez wants us to believe that we can solve all of our problems by giving him lots of money. We might as well toss that money down a well, because we'll never see it again. What we will see, however, is that I don't believe that trees cause more pollution than automobiles do. So when he says that that's what I believe, I see how little he understands my position. Not to belabor the point, but Gonzalez's grand plan is to substitute breast-beating and schwarmerei for action and honest debate. I'm sure Mao Tse Tung would approve. In any case, we must punish those who lie or connive at half-truths. Only then can a society free of his confused protests blossom forth from the roots of the past. And only then will people come to understand that there are those who are informed and educated about the evils of antinomianism, and there are those who are not. Gonzalez is one of the uninformed, naturally, and that's why he keeps trying to deceive us into thinking that he is a model citizen. The purpose of this deception may be to thrust all of us into scenarios rife with personal animosities and petty resentments. Or maybe the purpose is to reward mediocrity. Oh what a tangled web Gonzalez weaves when first he practices to deceive. To most people, the idea that it makes me sick to think that Gonzalez might burn our fair cities to the ground one day is so endemic, so long ingrained, that when others conclude that his dodgy philosophies were forged in the crucible of conformism, this merely seems to be affirming an obvious truth.

Because of Gonzalez's obsession with unilateralism, his hirelings are the carrion birds of humanity. For proof of this fact, I must point out that his older reports were selfish enough. His latest ones are truly beyond the pale. Idle hands are the devil's tools. That's why Gonzalez spends his leisure time devising ever more brassbound ways to teach the next generation how to hate -- and whom to hate. Think about that for a moment. It would be wrong to imply that he is involved in some kind of conspiracy to keep a close eye on those who look like they might think an unapproved thought. It would be wrong because his ultimata are far beyond the conspiracy stage. Not only that, but he commonly appoints ineffective people to important positions. He then ensures that these people stay in those positions because that makes it easy for him to base racial definitions on lineage, phrenological characteristics, skin hue, and religion. Lest you think that I'm talking out of my hat here, I should point out that Gonzalez's serfs have been staggering around like punch-drunk fighters hit too many times -- stunned, confused, betrayed, and trying desperately to rationalize Gonzalez's disorganized objectives. It is not a pretty sight.

Trumpeted so many times, Gonzalez's ploys have begun to feed on themselves, to generate their own publicity, to cow their opponents not by argument but by sheer repetition, and to take over society's eyes, ears, mind, and spirit. Yes, Gonzalez may have some superficial charm, but he refers to a variety of things using the word "scientificogeographical". Translating this bit of jargon into English isn't easy. Basically, Gonzalez's saying that it is his moral imperative to make things worse, which we all know is patently absurd. At any rate, if his plan to abuse science by using it as a mechanism of ideology is to be discouraged then the wisest course of action is to uplift individuals and communities on a global scale to issue a call to conscience and reason. Before we start down that road I ought to remind you that he is typical of incoherent, treasonous dirtbags in his wild invocations to the irrational, the magic, and the fantastic to dramatize his pranks. Gonzalez needs to open up to the world around him. Still, I recommend you check out some of Gonzalez's attitudes and draw your own conclusions on the matter. That reminds me: The first thing we need to do is to get him to admit that he has a problem. Gonzalez should be counseled to recite the following:

        * I, Alberto Gonzalez, am a pharisaical politicaster.
        * I have been a participant in a giant scheme to destabilize the already volatile social fabric that Gonzalez purportedly aims to save.
        * I hereby admit my addiction to egotism. I ask for the strength and wisdom to fight this addiction.

Once Gonzalez realizes that he has a problem, maybe then he'll see that his sexist flunkies seem to think they can escape the consequences of their actions. But what, you may ask, does any of that have to do with the theme of this letter, viz., that if the word "barothermohygrograph" occurs to the reader, he or she may recall that Gonzalez once tried to generate alienation and withdrawal? The answer is not obvious, because if we don't remove the Alberto Gonzalez threat now, it will bite us in our backside before you know it. There is an unpleasant fact, painful to the tender-minded, that one can deduce from the laws of nature. This fact is also conclusively established by direct observation. It is a fact so obvious that rational people have always known it and no one doubted it until Gonzalez and his apple-polishers started trying to deny it. The fact to which I am referring states that unlike Gonzalez, I stand for progression, not regression. Let me recap that for you, because it really is extraordinarily important: Gonzalez somehow manages to get away with spreading lies (it is better that a hundred thousand people should perish than that he should be even slightly inconvenienced), distortions (he can be trusted to judge the rest of the world from a unique perch of pure wisdom), and misplaced idealism (violence and prejudice are funny). However, when I try to respond in kind, I get censored faster than you can say "characteristicalness".

Gonzalez's forces don't represent an ideology. They don't represent a legitimate political group of people. They're just flat money-grubbing. Gonzalez is reluctant to resolve problems. He always just looks the other way and hopes no one will notice that I am a law-and-order kind of person. I hate to see crimes go unpunished. That's why I indubitably hope that Gonzalez serves a long prison term for his illegal attempts to con us into believing that Lysenkoism is the key to world peace. The struggle against sophomoric hooligans must be a struggle against alarmism, interventionism, and misoneism, or it is doomed to failure. What I mean to say is that Gonzalez's claim that his practices are our final line of defense against tyrrany is not only an attack on the concept of objectivity, but an assault on the human mind. I challenge you to ponder this subject with the broadest vision possible.

Judicially yours,
K. Trout

Researchers need to organize (4, Insightful)

starseeker (141897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422121)

The thing to do about this is to get the big names in the field to agree to transfer their efforts collectively as a body to a free journal. The ones with established careers don't have to worry about vanishing into the mists if they don't publish in a big name, and if they move their efforts as one they can shift the momentum without having to fight it out between old journal and new.

The tools are available to do this - LaTeX is free and already in use in many cases, and there are a multitude of collaborative tools that could be used or adapted to handle article submissions and reviews. ToC at http://theoryofcomputing.org/ [theoryofcomputing.org] has some very useful LaTeX tools defined for online journal publication. All that is really needed is a) the will to do it and b) the organization and support from the major players/schools to do it.

Authors and reviewers already do most of the work for free or worse, all that is needed now is to do that work for someone other than the folks charging high fees to control the work. (There's probably a joke in there somewhere about replacing the publishers of journals with a very small shell script...)

Re:Researchers need to organize (2, Interesting)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423927)

This is already happening and has been for some time. At least in my field (music technology), almost all the papers I have read since beginning my master's were published in conferences, which are pretty much academic get-togethers where professors are responsible for organizing the event and having the proceedings published. Whats more is the conferences tend to move around, so every year a different organizer is responsible for the whole thing, so the work load is completely shared by everyone in the organizing committee. Honestly, there is the odd book or journal article here and there, but by far the largest portion of research papers I have read and cited thus far are conference papers.

When my university organized a conference last year, students were asked to help with printing posters and doing Latex work to publish the proceedings. We didn't get a print copy, those went to the people who paid the registration fee, but all students got the papers on a CD, and they also all immediately went public on the web after each presentation.

So I'd say community-driven publication in the academic world is already here.

MIT PhD's (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422131)

OMG! MIT drops SAE DB of TP over DRM. FWIW, IANAL, but DRM PDF's are not A-OK at EDU's.

Re:MIT PhD's (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422667)

OMG! MIT drops SAE DB of TP over DRM. FWIW, IANAL, but DRM PDF's are not A-OK at EDU's.

LOL

Re:MIT PhD's (2, Funny)

Myopic (18616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423941)

WTF?

Re:MIT PhD's (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422721)

Please provide a CPAN link to the full source.

The fact is... We don't need them any more. (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422201)

Academics just want to publish. They want their papers to be spread far and wide and critiqued and expanded on. That's what they're for. The academic journals traditionally served this purpose.

But we don't need them any more. Almost all of the information can be rendered in HTML, will be freely hosted by universities, gets indexed by google, and spread via all sorts of communication forums. Why do we need the journals? We don't. They've simply become parasites.

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (4, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422273)

There is still room for trust. A well known publication with a respected community of reviewers adds something to a paper. It adds authority through the trust readers place in an established journal.

The real question is that since distribution and publication costs have gone down so much, why do we need to pay so much for access to these journals?

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422335)

Because the journals are now run by toxic Masters of Bugger All who want to profit using the wonderful I"P" system they and their cronies seek to control science and engineering with. Newsflash: it's the scientists and engineers who build the unstoppable doomsday devices, folks, the I"P" folk have picked a fight with the wrong people. All the copyrights in the world won't save an I"P" weenie when their flesh is melting from your bones!

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422587)

True. But I think this is an inefficient way of producing trust. Quite a few websites such as Wikipedia (and even Slashdot) have a certain level of reliability, and these have a trust mechansism set up in a pretty ad-hoc manner. A full time staff of reviewers costs a lot of money. It's not needed as long as you can find some other way to promote the paper. I think this is the Cathedral and the Bazaar all over again.

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422643)

Neither wikipedia nor slashdot should be relied on for anything important. You MUST have controlled publication to trust results. It's just a consequence of human nature.

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422679)

Quite a few websites such as Wikipedia (and even Slashdot) have a certain level of reliability...

If I'm reading a paper from, say, PLDI, I am pretty sure that it is at least a decent paper. It's probably a pretty good paper. I know that it has been read by the authors, probably by other people in their research groups, possibly by people at other universities, by 3 or 4 reviewers, and at least skimmed by the rest of the panel.

If I read a Wikipedia entry on a non-controversial subject, I'm pretty sure it wasn't crafted maliciously.

It's not the same, sorry.

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (1)

frogstar_robot (926792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422807)

What the GP post was getting at is that we can have "trusted and credible" reviewers without involving the journal middlemen. Is your trust in the journal or in the reviewer for the journal? Why is it that the reviewer himself has credibility? If you say "Because he has been in the journal" then I'm going to say "circular reasoning". If you say because the reviewer is accomplished in his field and is consistently correct about the works of others then you can see where we are going with this.

Any given field has notables whose opinions on subjects within the field carry weight. I don't see why scientific fields can't function without these notables being channeled through journals. The important thing is that skeptical peer review happen. I never saw some scientific Law that says journals are essential to this. Review could just as easily happen through blog-like moderated sites. If said sites are run by the universities and linked to each other then there is the field's public channel of consensus and communication. I'll grant that current journals have a measure of prestige and that this in turn will cause some inertia. They can adapt or be slowly deprecated.

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422919)

What the GP post was getting at is that we can have "trusted and credible" reviewers without involving the journal middlemen.

I'll agree, but it's not trivially established either. I'm not sure how to do it. It's probably something like your blog-like sites, but that's not a complete solution either. Who moderates? You've almost just moved the journal online and allowed comments, with the panel of people who accept/reject papers replaced by the panel of moderators.

And if you want to have a real-world conference instead of talking online, you need people to decide who presents, and we're back to the status quo.

If you say "Because he has been in the journal" then I'm going to say "circular reasoning"

Only somewhat. If you just look at the present state of things, being published in a prestigious journal IS a reasonable indicator that you have a pretty good idea of what you're talking about. It's not 100%, but if you're repeatedly published in, say, PLDI, you're not a slouch and you're almost certainly not a troll.

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423009)

True. It's not the same. I didn't mean to suggest it was.

But I think you can say more of Wikipedia than "not created maliciously". The discussion pages will tell you a lot about just how reliable the information is. And the reason I mentioned this is that you can have a minimal level of trust even in something that is designed in an ad-hoc manner. Wikipedia is leagues ahead of those chain emails that tell you all sorts of "fascinating facts". It has a bibliography and everything. The main drawback is that we have no idea who it is who's writing and editting the entries. But we know that what we know. The nature of Wikipedia will let you know that it's only going to skim the surface. We have a known trust level.

But what if you needed a pHD to post to Wikipedia? Wouldn't that be more reputable? I believe an online community of academics would have most of the benefit of a paper journal. I simply don't think that the paid reviewers add that much to a paper's reputability when you already have the review from the research groups and other universities. Ensuring these exist would not be a burden for an internet based journal, and because of the nature of the internet, we get a lot more peers reviewing.

Yes, you need more than just that, but I believe that the system can work. It just needs to evolve.

That's gonna cost you (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422773)

Quite a few websites such as Wikipedia (and even Slashdot) have a certain level of reliability
I've subpoenad slashdot to reveal your IP. Then I'll go to your ISP and get your street address. Because I got a bill here for a new keyboard and you owe me, buddy.

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422793)

As much as I think Wikipedia is really cool, when it comes to anything approaching postgrad level subject it ranges from mediocre to really really horrible. It is more often than not that glaringly obvious that the person writing the article as a very basic and incomplete grasp of the subjects they're covering.

Re:The fact is... We don't need them any more. (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422645)

Alright, I cut out a long, rambling philosophical discussion of the subject, explaining with charts and graphs why you're wrong. Instead, I'll cut to the chase. Think of it this way: if you turned slashdot karma back into a numeric value, and then gave the top 200 karma-laden users jobs as professional posters to news aggregators in general, those users would continue to whore slashdot, ignore the other sites, and establish a hierarchy based on the number of +5 slashdot posts, irrespective of their content.

Well, okay, so it wouldn't be much different. But if you told those guys, "hey, y'all don't need to subscribe to slashdot, why don't you go screw around with digg for a while," they would come back with, "we ain't paid to post on digg". Same here. We love to discuss ideas, and we do put stuff up on free sites hosted by universities. But we ain't paid for that. And the fact there's pressure to publish in the big journals, both in terms of jobs/research monies, and in terms of getting others to pay attention to ideas makes those publications more valuable. Heck, the fact that many institutions have stated recruitment/tenure/granting policies that require/count publications in certain journals makes those journals obligatory for the libraries of those institutions. And at that point, a publisher can start fleecing.

Damn right we don't need them any more. (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422709)

I set up a wiki [editthis.info] a few seconds ago, for the sole purpose of providing a place for the automotive engineering community to post its research online in a free and open manner.

I've done my part by creating an open forum and setting the default admin password (GMail me at my slashdot username for this). Now all that needs to happen is some automotive engineers need to start posting their papers in their new wiki.

well (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422213)

Dont they know its practically impossible to protect something like a academic paper. This kind of DRM is easily defeated, probably with just the print screen button, whats the point?

Re:well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422361)

Experienced a similar situation a couple of months ago with a paper PDF which, helpfully, informed me I couldn't copy or print the paper. Great - open in ghostscript and resave and I now have a nice clean PDF which I can happily print. I do wish they would just give it a break with the pathetic DRM - I need to print papers out, to attempt to stop me doing so is just wasting my time and theirs (as I will always find a way around it - last resort print screen as you say).

Re:well (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18424693)

Did you just admit a DMCA violaton in public?

Oh your posting AC. Phew!

Re:well (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422615)

You could probably email the writer of the paper and ask for a non-protected copy with a decent rate of success if you email from a .edu domain.

SAE has always been money grubbing jerks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422225)

Have you seen the prices for common standards like CAN-BUS (Car Area Network) and OBD (On-Board Diagnostics)? It's usually over $1,000 for a SINGLE copy of the standard, and last I looked, you couldn't get electronic copies, only paper.

I can understand $30 or so to cover printing, storage, etc. but that amount is just robbery.

Re:SAE has always been money grubbing jerks (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18424741)

Have you seen the prices for common standards like CAN-BUS (Car Area Network) and OBD (On-Board Diagnostics)? It's usually over $1,000 for a SINGLE copy of the standard, and last I looked, you couldn't get electronic copies, only paper.


The National Electrical Code is starting to get expensive now that the $20 book is well over $100. Remember you have to abide by the code.. even for low voltage stuff like running a cat 5 cable. The trouble is that they make it very difficult to know what the code is without leaving behind a serious chunk of change.

My last inspected job passed! I didn't buy the book but followed the online discussion on the codebook revisions so I knew what changed.

MIT rock. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422249)

Places like MIT are the reason why I as a European haven't quite given up totally on the USA, tarnished though it is.

Re:MIT rock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422353)

Hey, the USA has a lot going for it. Most of the population of the country didn't vote for Bush. They have some of the finest research insitutitons in the world. Their armed forces are usually there after any environmental disaster, offering support and relief. Don't let little things like a few money grabbing politicians and power hungry security services turn you off the entire nation. The bad elements are a serious minority.

Re:MIT rock. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422377)

Amen to that. My thoughts exactly.

Kudos to MIT. You've got quite a reputation to live up to!

Re:MIT rock. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422431)

Places like MIT are the reason why I as a European haven't quite given up totally on the USA, tarnished though it is.
Oh, shut the fuck up, you pompous, self-important Euro-twit. No one in the USA really gives a flying fuck whether or not you've "given up" on it.

Second that. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422727)

Enjoy your socialism, outrageous taxation, and your innovative "bread line" approach to health care (when available).

Re:MIT rock. (0, Troll)

Oldav (533444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423635)

Big statement from an AC, very courageous, then again what more can you expect from a nation of cowards who are so easily scared into sacrificing freedom and the things you used to pretend to stand for, and who's poor and sick have no proper health care system Bloody retards, you certainly describe yourself when you try to denigrate this guy. We still do hope the US will make the list of countries that can be regarded as civilised one day, but I for one doubt it. In 10 years you will be completely owned by China dumbfuck.

Re:MIT rock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18424507)

Big statement from an AC, very courageous, then again what more can you expect from a nation of cowards who are so easily scared into sacrificing freedom and the things you used to pretend to stand for, and who's poor and sick have no proper health care system Bloody retards, you certainly describe yourself when you try to denigrate this guy.
AC? Is "Oldav" your actual and only name? You're just as anonymous as anyone, you stupid moron. You're probably a Euro-pussy as well, from the land where people never have the guts to stand up to tyrants, but they had no problem carrying out a holocaust against peaceful Jews. And you think you're better than Americans? Dream on, fuckhead.

Re:MIT rock. (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422577)

MIT already has an Open Source project dealing with content -- OpenCourseWare. [mit.edu] Perhaps their dispute with the SAE will inspire someone at MIT to go forward with an open-source peer-reviewed journal project, making use of LaTeX and other technology mentioned in previous posts. Sort of a spin on "Put up or shut up."

Re:MIT rock. - Open Courseware rocks. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18423955)

FYI: Excellent content available at Open CourseWare.

I've found myself teaching high school chemistry as of January, but being a science (and computer) geek in other fields I had to do some filling in. I found a course with videos of lectures. Video at 1 frame per second - strangely workable. Clear audio. Camera pans to get all equations on the board. Instructor is good. Also amusing shorts on proper lab technique. Works well for my auditory learning style, too.

MIT has committed to having content for all its courses on Open CourseWare. Coverage is mixed, ranging from full video lectures for some courses to just PDFs of a few handouts for other courses.

Check it out for your favorite field. See what the (other) Uber Geeks are learning.

-Jon

DRM == YAWNN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422329)

Another day another laod of slashdot drivel whining about DRM. jesus, give it a break guys. Your just pissed at DRM because it means you have to stop leeching.

Re:DRM == YAWNN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422507)

LOL! Yup. Gotta hate the way people want to leech off the work that the journals haven't paid good money for.

In a perfect world.... (1)

Space_Pirate_Arrr (1078149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422351)

Academics publish on their own websites. Journals provide an index of articles on a related topic. Journals sell either subscriptions or ads, and can collect earth moneys in proportion to the service that they actually provide, which is an *index* not a *content creator*.

Re:In a perfect world.... (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422479)

..the journals are like Google? ;-)

Re:In a perfect world.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18424213)

Actually, we have something like this already - Faculty of 1000.

There are so many journals that Faculty of 1000 pays some profs to pick out the best ones in their field and post a summary of why they think the paper is so important. Its an indexer of indexers.

Gravy Train derails (5, Informative)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422405)

Did you know that when an academic writes a paper, to get it published, they have to surrender the copyright to the academic journal? After that, they can't even give copies away. If someone wants to see it, they're supposed to point them to the journal publisher where they can "buy" reprints.

Who are these academic publishers? Springer, Wiley, etc. Try doing a scholarly search in Google. You'll find many PDF entries show a few words from the article, but no [cache]. When you click, you seen none of the article, but are taken to a "Pay Up!" page run by Springer, Wiley, etc. I wish Google wouldn't even waste my time listing these. (Note they even make an exception, allowing them to show one version of the web page to Google and another to the public. BMW was blacklisted by Google for doing this. Why are these publishers allowed to get away with it?)

In the pre-Internet days they could get away with it. But with the Internet, these companies should have dropped out of the business. Certainly Universities are sick of paying big bucks and would love to spend their money on more important things. Many third world countries can't afford them period:

http://www.ojr.org/ojr/stories/121004ohanluain/ [ojr.org]
http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6289896.ht ml [libraryjournal.com]

Springer, Wiley etc should have gone out of business, but they've managed to hang on. How? In part due to Academics who still contribute to them. Prestige and promotion depends on having their papers published in 'prominent' journals. There are alternatives: peer-reviewed journals, organisational or web sites. What really stinks is most of this research is paid for by the tax payer. But the taxpayer has to pay Springer, Wiley, etc to read the research they paid for.

http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/2900/01/harnad96.pe er.review.html [soton.ac.uk]
http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/04-01/varian.html [umich.edu]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_journal [wikipedia.org]

Hopefully Universities will finally read academics the riot act: "We're not going to buy anymore of your publishing buddies overpriced ripoff journals, and we're not going to give you credit for being published in one either" and for government/taxpayers to say "We paid you to do the research. We're not going to let you give away the results"

Re:Gravy Train derails (3, Informative)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423149)

Did you know that when an academic writes a paper, to get it published, they have to surrender the copyright to the academic journal? After that, they can't even give copies away. If someone wants to see it, they're supposed to point them to the journal publisher where they can "buy" reprints.

Actually, most publishers (but not all) allow you to publish on your website the accepted version of your paper. What you can't publish is the edited version that appears in the journal. That's what I do for everything I publish (see my web page). The main advantage of doing that for the authors (outside of altruism) is that you get cited more often, which also counts in your record.

On the plus side, there are emerging journals that have an open access policy and I'm considering one of them for the next paper I submit.

Re:Gravy Train derails (2, Informative)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423317)

> The main advantage of doing that for the authors (outside of altruism) is that you get cited more often, That's right! I can't cite you if I can't see you! :-) Some authors from prohibitive journals put a draft version which skirts around it. Many don't. Heard on NPR two weeks ago that Congress (may.. always a may!) be about to ban publishing taxpayer-funded papers in restricted-access journals. > On the plus side, there are emerging journals that have an open access policy and I'm considering one of them for the next paper I submit. They really need to catch up with the times. It's amazing they've lasted as long as they have. The RIAA could learn something from these guys! ;-)

Re:Gravy Train derails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18424589)

That taxpayer-funded restricted journal thing would be VERY interesting. I can't think of a single open-access journal in my field, but I can think of a gazillion people in my field working under grants from the National Science Foundation (me, for one), and the National Institutes of Health.

Do you recall more specifically when you heard about this or what it was called specifically?

Re:Gravy Train derails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18423231)

Not always. Nature [nature.com] doesn't require copyright assigment, but instead "Authors grant NPG an exclusive licence to publish, in return for which they can reuse their papers in their future printed work without first requiring permission from the publisher of the journal. "

Nature does apparently encourage authors to submit the author's manuscript (unedited) to the author's instution or on the Author's website for public release six months after publication in Nature.

Re:Gravy Train derails (2, Interesting)

daff2k (689551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423263)

Did you know that when an academic writes a paper, to get it published, they have to surrender the copyright to the academic journal? After that, they can't even give copies away. If someone wants to see it, they're supposed to point them to the journal publisher where they can "buy" reprints.

(IANAL) Fortunately, it works that way only in the US (and countries with similar "extreme" copyright laws). In many European countries you cannot give away the rights to your own creation. We also distinguish between "exploitation rights" (i.e. the right to copy or distribute and the like) and the "intellectual property", if that's the term best describing the German word "Urheberrecht". You can give licenses to others or partially extend your exploitation rights to others, but you can't _not_ be the one who keeps every right to your creation.

So any journal that you submit an article to gets the right to print it, but you always keep the right to distribute copies of your article yourself.

Now it's too bad that so many major journals are US-based (although Springer is or was German if I'm not mistaken).

Re:Gravy Train derails (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423285)

Actually you get lots of back doors into content if you change your firefox to look like a google bot when you go web surfing. I get free access to almost all magazines articles by simply using a quick user-agent string change and reload. Works great.

I hope they don't start blacklisting as it's the best back door to bypassing pay content there is.

Re:Gravy Train derails (2)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423417)

Lumpy writes:
> change your firefox to look like a google bot when you go web surfing

Lumpy! That's a great idea! How can we do this? Inquiring minds (literally) want to know! Great Mods await!

daff2k writes:
> So any journal that you submit an article to gets the right to print it,
> but you always keep the right to distribute copies of your article yourself.

That makes a lot more sense.

If "intellectual property" is "Urheberrecht, does that make MIT's decision "Schadenfreude?" :-)

Re:Gravy Train derails (1)

Adam Hazzlebank (970369) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423751)

Did you know that when an academic writes a paper, to get it published, they have to surrender the copyright to the academic journal? After that, they can't even give copies away. If someone wants to see it, they're supposed to point them to the journal publisher where they can "buy" reprints.


That's not actually true, many Open Access don't require you to surrender copyright. In fact I've never heard of a journal pressing the issue of copyright if you have a preprint on your website.

Open Access journals are paid either at the state level (everyone in a country can publish for free) or the costs are paid by the author (supposedly though the grant they have been given for the research). Publishing isn't cheap, but is worth it if it makes your project look good (of the order of $700)

Re:Gravy Train derails (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18424633)

And while Universities boycot the academic publishing industry and dismiss the work of students who publish in them, the rest of us can boycot the music industry and dismiss the work of artists who haven't realized they can produce and distribute original music without the help of their evil industry.

Kill off those who are dependent on "distributors" to do the easy-part of their job for them (the hard part being actually authoring new, original work).

The whole point of this (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422439)

is that there are substantial costs for what passes for quality. You have reviewers, you have professionals looking at submissions and you have indexing.

Sure, all of this can be replicated for free on the web. It is just that you throw out the "professional review" and the "professional indexing" and instead have "groupthink" and "concensus".

Why do they want to limit access? To prevent redistribution without attribution and without their control. They may not own the rights to the original research, but they own the rights to their compliation of it. Like a phone book, the names are not what the publisher owns - they own the compilation and the index.

The current "answer" on the Internet is the Wiki-this and Wiki-that which for some things get more people involved and opens the field to anonymous contributions. It also reinforces groupthink and concensus-building so everyone that doesn't agree gets shouted down (or more accurately in the wiki case, out-edited). The end result is you have an open forum where you used to have professionals.

With the current thinking on copyright (bah!) and such, can you blame a professional journal trying to protect their existance? If their material is freely distributed, why would anyone pay for it? Worse, having some freely distributed but not everything puts a clear bias in peoples' minds.

Re:The whole point of this (1)

Belisar (473474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422519)

is that there are substantial costs for what passes for quality. You have reviewers, you have professionals looking at submissions and you have indexing.

Sure, all of this can be replicated for free on the web. It is just that you throw out the "professional review" and the "professional indexing" and instead have "groupthink" and "concensus".
I don't know whether that's not the case in areas other than Computer Science, but I
can assure that in CS the people reviewing papers are the same ones writing them,
and doing so for free (hence the term 'peer review', by the way). So in other words,
the journals are paying neither the authors not the reviewers. Sweet deal, isn't it?

Re:The whole point of this (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422565)

> You have reviewers, you have professionals looking at submissions and you have indexing.

But are the reviewers paid for their work? The 'professionals' looking at the submissions certainly are: They work for the publishing company.

Publishing costs on the web are low. All you need is peer-reviewers which are drawn from the academic community anyway.

Of course e-journals are expensive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422947)

DRM gurus don't work cheap! They have an investment to protect too: their student loans. After spending years in a University one discovers how much milk you can get out of an academic budget.

"Yeah, basically you don't want anybody to see this unless they pay. If you price it high, it shows the content is much more valuable, and every campus wants the most valuable resources. They're really *saving* money by not having to keep all those books lying around. Trust me, it's no problem to load up Internet Explorer 5.5, wade through three password prompts, and need to click the Next button every 500 words. Masters students have oodles of time, and they need what you've got, so they have to swallow it and beg for more."

From CompSci degree to peep-show entrepreneur in no time flat.

"Don't worry baby, it's just for research."

Re:The whole point of this (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18424721)

You make a good point. Publishing online can be done by any low-life with an agenda. A respectable scientific publication needs vetting. Why not form a community to do the vetting process and let "expert reviewers" in the field sign off on the quality of a submission? At the end of the article, let the reviewers post their names... and let membership to become a review be by-invitation-only (so not just anybody can sign up). Could this type of meta-moderating community support the niche that trade journals currently exist to fill?

Better headline (1, Offtopic)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422543)

MIT Bins DRM-Laden Journal Subscription

The tenure process is a hurdle (3, Informative)

rmcd (53236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422595)

Those not in academia may wonder why scholarly publishing hasn't moved more quickly to on-line alternatives. A major problem is that in order to receive tenure, an academic generally has to publish in "top journals". Top journals are determined by custom and by the history of citations, and being able to publish in them does say something good about the author. So existing high quality journals with an established reputation have monopoly power and they are exploiting it.

This will undoubtedly change. The whole process has the air of a scam: editors and reviewers effectively donate their time (fees are typically nominal, if they even exist), and the authors surrender publication rights for free. Meanwhile, as someone else pointed out, the big publishers are starting new journals as fast as they can.

Congrats to MIT.

The IEEE are as bad (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422683)

I'm posting this anon as I really don't want my name getting back to anyone in a position of authority at the IEEE (I know some of them, and... well, let's just say I'd rather stay anon), but this article pretty much sums up the sheer profiteering that goes on in academia today. My particular target is the IEEE, who - if you look at their most recent accounts - have net assets of something like $300 million, charge a fortune for membership (the lowest levels of which get almost nothing for their money, really), force you to transfer your copyright over to them when submitting to a journal or conference they sponsor or run, etc.

Richard Stallman urges a boycott of them. The article he links to from his website is: http://cr.yp.to/writing/ieee.html [cr.yp.to]

Read it - it's important! We ran a conference sponsored by the IEEE in the last 24 months, and we had to pay 14% of our gross expenses to them as an 'administration fee', despite them doing absolutely nothing to help us whatsoever other than to allow us to use their logo (if you want your conference to be a success and regarded highly, you need their name attached really, which is sad as it gives them so much control). If we'd lost money, they would've - at most - given us 10% of our expenses back to help us. Whatever happens, they profit, despite their tremendous net assets.

I'd love to see what sort of salaries the upper echelons of the IEEE staff are making.... all thanks to the academics who are pretty much forced to use them....

The problem of prestige (3, Interesting)

starseeker (141897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422723)

Prestige is necessary for a journal to be a major player in a field, and such a reputation is built up over time. They sustain that reputation and academics (particularly new ones) must try to get published in those journals in order to succeed. This creates a feedback loop, as the youngest members of the community who might be the most willing to further a change to a free journal are also the most limited in their ability to buck the establishment.

I would suggest universities and departments "grade" journals and openly state which will be regarded as acceptable publication targets. In this fashion, a review board could be created for a new journal that would have the confidence of departments and could be endorsed as a "safe" publishing target from the get-go. (It would also be a difficult target, just like the established journals, in order to evaluate students according to a standard.) With this official endorsement by "big names" in the field, some momentum could begin to shift. Younger students who are new to the system and not yet accustomed to the high prices would be more willing to try and correct what many see as a serious problem. Those trying for tenure would have less to worry about when being reviewed if their institution endorses the new publication.

Prestige is a dangerous thing to worship, and the real reason for prestige of a journal is the content within it. I think a shakeup is way overdue.

OB Wiki response (1, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422735)

Just to get this out of the way, no, a wiki is not a solution to replacing scholarly peer reviewed journals. OK?

Re:OB Wiki response (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423259)

Thats a pretty broad statement. Also, it's incorrect.

There is no reason you can't have a peer reviewed wiki.
No, it would not be wikipedia, but it could be a wiki.

Maybe a wiki where someone adds there paper, it is locked down and peer reviewed by authorized* persons? After which, anyone can look at and add annotations but not change the reviewed text.

*confirmend authorized person.

Re:OB Wiki response (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423979)

I have improved your post, wiki-style:

Just to get this out of the way, a wiki is a solution to replacing scholarly peer reviewed journals. Okay!

osama drm laden (4, Funny)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423215)

technological terrorist brother?

Here at the UW most use Linux (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423547)

And most use Firefox, so I can see why they'd want to drop such a journal.

Time to wake up and smell the 21st century. DRM is not ready for prime time.

coping with DRM for PDF in linux (1)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 7 years ago | (#18423641)

Many DRM stricken PDF (especially DRM which prevents printing)
can be dealt with
convert drmstricken.pdf tmp.ps; convert tmp.ps free.pdf
in linux. While this makes the files huge and unsearchable, an
additional OCR allows to recover most of the text. As usual,
DRM does not prevent access, but makes it a nuisance.

trolL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18423847)

Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18424459)

I'm not going to comment on academics publishing elsewhere, or about the research that is done. The problem with these industry groups is that they are entrenched in the engineering world, and you won't just get to go anywhere else.

I'm an engineer at a small aerospace company, and SAE specs are everywhere. All materials are called out on engineering drawings by their AMS numbers, ie: AMS5680 welding wire, AMS4777 nickel braze filler, etc. Do you need a copy of that material spec? ~$50US a pop. And you have no choice, that's how everything is spec'ed out. Are you going to do business with Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, Teledyne? Better get used to paying for access to these specs.

My company springs for the CD subscription, so I can get all I need. Whatever they pay, which is probably too much, is just the cost of doing business. I'm sure IEEE is the same way, as is AWS, etc. etc.

As was mentioned on another post, I would like to see the salaries and operating expenses of the SAE. Are they really not for profit?
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