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Editorial In ACM On Open Access Publishing In Computer Science

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the science-for-all dept.

Science 60

call -151 writes "An editorial appearing in the ACM notices complains about the effects of the Elsevier boycott particularly with respect to academics refusing to do unpaid review for for-profit journals, particularly the extortionate Elsevier journals. Mathematician Tim Gowers's post gave energy to this about a year ago and recently he reflected on progress in several directions, including developing new arXIv overlay journals. Not disclosed in the ACM editorial is that the author serves on three Elsevier editorial boards; I take it that his complaining about the difficulty of finding referees is an indication that the boycott is having some good effect. Open access issues in academic publishing have been discussed on Slashdot before and it's a good sign that the broader issue has been getting good exposure, including a reasonable White House directive in response to a strong petition effort."

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Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43040915)

Good. It's about time these vultures realised that without the content creators (AKA scientists) they would not have a job.

Now if we can see about getting scientific data released on a default open access basis then that would be a good next step.

Re:Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (0, Troll)

decora (1710862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041893)

unfortunately if we start doing that, we would realize that a huge number of scientific data are simply falsified, plagiarized, fraudulent, or flat out stupid.

the entire PHD industry would grind to a halt, and the 'part-time adjunct associate staff member intern' would no longer be able to teach all of Calculus 1-3 in front of a hall of 500 students.

after that, the administrators would no longer be able to fuck their secretaries or spend 50,000 dollars putting a pink oval of flowers outside of their window

Re:Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43043705)

Your university sounds awesome! Where do I sign up?!

Re:Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (1)

l3v1 (787564) | about a year and a half ago | (#43043489)

"Good. It's about time these vultures realised that without the content creators (AKA scientists) they would not have a job. Now if we can see about getting scientific data released on a default open access basis then that would be a good next step. " While I see some reason there, most of the zealots (most of whom don't come from research) forget the very important issue that open access doesn't mean free. If someone wants to publish an article as "open access", that can cost the author many thousands of Eur/USD, essentially shifting the cost from the readers to the authors. And a lot of authors can't pay for that since most - currently running - research grants do not include those extra tens of thousands (per year) in their funding schemes. So, on one hand, you demand free access to published articles, but on the other hand you expect the authors to come up with this money to cover the costs. From my/our side, if we'd have any grants that would cover such costs, we would gladly submit all papers under an "open access" scheme, but as things stand now, we can't. And here comes a schizophrenic moment: my institute has mandated open access to all publications from january this year, but they have _not_ provided any kind of financial support to enable us to publish as such. How great.

Re:Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (1)

pantaril (1624521) | about a year and a half ago | (#43043941)

While I see some reason there, most of the zealots (most of whom don't come from research) forget the very important issue that open access doesn't mean free. If someone wants to publish an article as "open access", that can cost the author many thousands of Eur/USD, essentially shifting the cost from the readers to the authors

If you are unable to release the results of your research to the public, that's OK with me, but don't expect to get any public money from the goverment. Why should be the private research journals able to profit from tax-payers funded research?

Re:Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43045257)

If you are unable to release the results of your research to the public, that's OK with me, but don't expect to get any public money from the goverment. Why should be the private research journals able to profit from tax-payers funded research?

What about people who received their research grants before this kerfuffle but haven't yet finished publishing the results from them? They don't have the money in their budgets for what you want. Their institutions don't have the money either (it's committed to other things, such as stopping the buildings from burning down; even the parts that are going to journal access have to be maintained because there's a need to keep access to existing journal articles). Getting to the situation of open access is hard because it takes rejigging the financial structure of grants and altering where the community in the particular field values as a publication location. Some fields have changed, some haven't.

Perhaps there should be a special tax on the corporations that publish journals to cover the costs of changing the access model.

Re:Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (1)

pantaril (1624521) | about a year and a half ago | (#43065549)

Money for publication should be part of the grant. If public pays for research but the results are closed, what did the public exactly paid for? Where is the benefit?

Re:Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about a year and a half ago | (#43044163)

I've been told off of author-pays journals (like PLOS) by supervisors and collaborators due to the money. This is especially true with preliminary studies (i.e. really extra novel) because there isn't a grant for the research yet, but it's exactly these sort of "hey look at this cool new area that still has lots of low-hanging fruit" kind of articles that would benefit most from open access (both for exposure and for the spirit of science).

Fortunately neither of the association journals I'm attached to are with Elsivier (although their management has been farmed out to slightly less massive publishing groups). If they were, I think I'd still review for them because I don't have to vote with my feet (I can vote with my vote). On the other hand, if my associations were the ones trapped in the "Elsivier captured our whole journal and we don't have rights to it anymore" boat - then I think I'd vote with my feet too.

I feel bad for the people who's professional organizations gave away all rights to their own journal... but nobody accused a group of scientists as being more cunning in a business sense than the guys who wear a tie and non-white jacket all the time.

Re:Good. Now lets take back the rest of science. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43044197)

If someone wants to publish an article as "open access", that can cost the author many thousands of Eur/USD, essentially shifting the cost from the readers to the authors. And a lot of authors can't pay for that since most - currently running - research grants do not include those extra tens of thousands (per year) in their funding schemes.

Golden OA articles are usually less than $2000, unless you want to pay Elsevier. So to reach tens of thousands per year, a researcher would have to publish more then five journal articles a year, which is kind of impossible, if all those papers are supposed to be about a new and well research topic (Of course there are those authors that write three articles about something that is logically one article). Apart from that, e.g. most IEEE journals require you to pay for color figures and extra pages, which means that even for a regular article you might end up paying $1000+.

From my/our side, if we'd have any grants that would cover such costs, we would gladly submit all papers under an "open access" scheme, but as things stand now, we can't. And here comes a schizophrenic moment: my institute has mandated open access to all publications from january this year, but they have _not_ provided any kind of financial support to enable us to publish as such. How great.

Do they mandate golden OA, or just green OA. In the latter case the journal you publish in doesn't have to be OA itself, but it must allow publishing your paper in a public repository and/or on the institutional home page. No money required to comply with the OA obligation.

Hip Hip (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041009)

Two cheers for Gowers' and his band of academics. Make the buggers pay.

I decline too (5, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041069)

Since last year or so, I've declined to review for any journal that isn't open access. I don't review less than before; like many academics I get more requests for this kind of thing than I have time to accept. I simply make a point of accepting review assignments only from open access journals, and I write that as my reason for declining reviews.

Re:I decline too (4, Interesting)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041607)

Well done! Since you are already doing this, have you thought about signing the Cost of Knowledge [thecostofknowledge.com] petition if you haven't already done? In theory, this will prevent at least Elsevier editors from asking you to review in the first place and hopefully help establish more momentum for change.

In my experience with declining requests to review, I have commonly mentioned access and/or price as concerns for declining and have found some sympathy with various editors. If this becomes more commonplace, hopefully that will speed change to more reasonable publishing models.

Re:I decline too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43041717)

In theory, this will prevent at least Elsevier editors from asking you to review in the first place

If the goal is to encourage Elsevier to go the open access route, wouldn't that be slightly counterproductive?

It's much more disruptive and frustrating to editors to have to send out requests to review papers, only to have them come back saying "sorry, I can't do this because X" than to simply pre-screen the names against a list. The latter is simply a several second, easily automated additional step in the process. The former introduces hassle on the editor (they can't automate parsing the rejection notice) and delay in the process (as they probably waited a day to get your response, and now have to send out another email to an additional potential reviewer).

Boycotts typically work by inconveniencing the recipient of the boycott. Making it easy to work around your boycott tends to reduce its effectiveness.

Re:I decline too (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042431)

If the goal is to encourage Elsevier to go the open access route, wouldn't that be slightly counterproductive?

Isn't the goal to cause Elsevier to DIAF since they got busted deliberately publishing bogus journals?

heh heh "Overrated" mod (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042955)

The sure sign of someone who knows they're doing a bad thing when they downmod

Re:I decline too (1)

JanneM (7445) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042541)

I did sign it already. And to be clear, I don't refuse Elsevier, but any journal that is not open access. On the other hand, if Elsevier, say, would start a single open access journal I would review for that even if they didn't open access any other journal in their line-up.

I dislike Elsevier as much as the next person. But to me this is not about punishing anybody, but about how to best allocate my limited time. Open access papers benefit a lot more people than closed papers, simply by being accessible to anybody.

Consequently, my time spent reviewing an open access paper ultimately benefits more people than doing the same work for a paper that is destined to disappear behind a paywall.

Do they actually exist, for computer science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43043083)

The only open-access journal that gets up to the minimum quality border is certain publications from Wiley. Most open-access publications in computer science are plagarism, non-sense, poor quality graphs and graphics, poor grammar and poor spelling mashed together into an 8-22 page PDF. I don't even bother reading their CFPs or papers anymore, the level is just too abysmal. There might be one or two good papers among all this trash, but it simply isn't worth trying to find it.

The IEEE and ACM have started to offer optional additional author fees in return for open-access publication of the article. Making it optional brings problems though - publication is already expensive; paying thousands extra to make a publication open-access is not responsible budget management, and I'm not personally willing to give up one or even two months of salary for it.

Re:Do they actually exist, for computer science? (1)

cryptizard (2629853) | about a year and a half ago | (#43044893)

Open-access journals seem to be redundant in CS. Since both IEEE and ACM allow you to put PDFs of your articles on your own personal page or preprint sites, and in my experience 100% of articles that I wanted to read which were written in the last ten years are on such sites, everything in CS is already de facto open-access. Google Scholar manages to find PDFs of articles put on the web in various places almost every time. In the most extreme case, you can always email one of the authors and have them send you a copy.

There is an important difference (1)

gwolf (26339) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067549)

Good that those highly reputed bodies allow you to republish your PDFs printed with them. However, for the person interested in reading your paper (for which the citation says "CACM 03/13"), the natural step to look for it will be to approach CACM's site. If it is closed, many people will just curse and go on looking for alternative sources of information. Googling your document by title/author is not guaranteed to lead to http://obscure.dept.univ.edu/~author/papers/comp/2013/foobar_ftw.pdf [univ.edu] — And, of course, there are also a large number of academics who will not publish their papers on their own site.

So, yes, IEEE and ACM are MUCH better when compared with Elsevier, and contribute much better to the advance of knowledge. But having the information published at its official point, properly cataloged, is much better.

Re:I decline too (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | about a year and a half ago | (#43043421)

I've taken a further step. I now refuse to review OA articles with excessive article charges. I *will* however review any article posted publicly, at the authors request. And post my review publicly.

Time to break the current system.

Re:I decline too (1)

Paul (2854449) | about a year and a half ago | (#43044165)

I agree about the OA-only review stance. However, isn't the idea of a curated journal still better than independently-posted articles of questionable quality? At least, how do I find such articles when looking for related work, or how do I know a given article is reputable? I suppose if it's been reviewed by reputable reviewers, but I'm still a little sceptical of the infrastructure (or lack of it). Having said that, I'm also for “breaking the system” – just not sure how to go about it yet...

Re:I decline too (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about a year and a half ago | (#43044245)

I've got a few questions about how this hypothetical system you hint at might work:

How could we prevent self-reinforcement? (i.e. authors picking their like-thinkers and friends as reviewers)

How does a prospective reader know the aproximate strength of an article - keeping track of journal reputations is a pain, keeping track of individual reviewer quality is probably near-impossible

Could we avoid overwhelming "celebrity" reviewers? It seems that leaders in the field would give up email entirely if every prospective writer hit their inbox.

How would you see revisions handled? For example, I review X and say "pretty good, but I want to see better stats on the data here. And you should discuss the implications of...", they revise (and the paper's better) and then I (and others) recommend acceptance; the paper's then published in a finished and citable form. If every time the author responds to a publicly review gives a different version of X, then there's an added headache with the readers (who may have to re-read old papers in addition to reading new ones) and citations which could get confusing - Author, "Title" Publication Source, Date, revision (X, X1, ..., X23.b7, etc...).

I think there's quite a bit of merit in self publishing for true peer review (and not just articles, but how about self published peer reviewed theses? Peer-field accredited qualifications for the people who are learning more from open online courses and textbooks? A true meritocracy of talent, knowledge, and expertise). But we'd need to get these things sorted out if we don't want HR departments throwing out CVs with a list of self published articles and self declared Ph.D.s.

And about the double-blind requirement? (1)

gwolf (26339) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067575)

Of course, I will also review my friends' articles. And will probably approve them. Specially if they are my friends, and know I am the reviewer.

Part of the importance on being the editorial body who mediates in this is to make the process less subjective.

I decline to review... (4, Funny)

bware (148533) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041125)

Articles written in gray type on a white background.

Re:I decline to review... (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about a year and a half ago | (#43044255)

Pshaw, that's nothing. Once an editor sent me an article that had body text written in a sans-serif font!

Re:I decline to review... (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43045313)

Pshaw, that's nothing. Once an editor sent me an article that had body text written in a sans-serif font!

Think on this: article written with Word using Comic Sans throughout. Or an article where the text is missing entirely. (Yes, I've seen that. It was at least easy to reject with a clear conscience!)

Good! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43041217)

Let them die.

For-profit journals need to die, and we need to support cheap/free open-access journals so that publically-funded academic research stops being locked up by money-grubbing middlemen.

Elsevier should be boycotted until it withers and dies. The world will be a better place.

Re:Good! (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041861)

For-profit journals need to die, and we need to support cheap/free open-access journals

There is no reason that a for-profit journal cannot be open-access. There are plenty of for-profit magazines that publish their articles for free on the web, so a scientific journal could do the same. There is also no reason that a non-profit journal couldn't be closed to public access.

Uh ... that would be bad, too. (4, Interesting)

oneiros27 (46144) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042385)

So if the journal dies, does it take all of his archives with it?

I've gone on record on a lot of forums in support of open access (hell, I even managed to throw an AGU election last year after I read the society's response to last year's call for comments that led to the OMB memo that got released last week as it pissed me off so much).

But the problem is that some of the publishers have built themselves a pyramid scheme ... they've siphoned too much money out of the system (Elsevier has been paying ~$1.40 in dividends these last few years ... about ~3.5% of their value), and they rely on people shelling out $30+ to read some 20 year old article to pay for their continuing operations, rather than stashing their page fees away as an endowment to pay for preservation of the documents.

So, when the companies do go backrupt ... will the papers fall into the public domain? Maybe, if it was a society journal, and they had a contract that didn't completely take advantage of them. More likely, however, is that it'll go up for auction ... and some other big publisher who still has money will take it over, and try to find some other way to 'extract value' from their 'new investment'.

Elsevier should be boycotted (I'm doing it myself), but so they listen and open the stuff up *before* they die.

Look, if they *really* add value by peer reviewing, charge for the peer reviewing -- make people pay to submit in the first place (rather than authors fees, downloading fees, etc.) But if they did that, they couldn't claim how 'exclusive' they are with the ratio of papers they reject.

Good old days (3, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041229)

Sounds like things are slowly creeping back to the way they were in the good old days before print journals existed and scientific papers were freely distributed among colleagues. Only now your colleagues can be the entire world.

Re:Good old days (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about a year and a half ago | (#43044279)

Not quite the good old days. Back then there was usually a bit more thought and revision put into something before the effort of setting the type and hiring the engravers. Now it's as easy as pasting one's first draft into a slashdot comment - and we all know how well thought out and revised those are ;)

Re:Good old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43046895)

Sounds like things are slowly creeping back to the way they were in the good old days before print journals existed and scientific papers were freely distributed among colleagues. Only now your colleagues can be the entire world.

The good old days sucked. I remember people paying a fortune to get out science papers. Sometimes papers were delayed or dropped, because there wasn't enough money in the budget to publish everything. I remember people cutting out figures, because you paid per page and extra for figures. When color started, it was insanely expensive to have a color figure. Publishing, editing, peer review, paper selection all cost money. Since the consumer of articles is now refusing to pay any cost at all for these papers, I fear the entire cost will be born by the producers. This at a time when most scientists are feeling significant budget cuts. You get what you pay for.

Need new plan, publish first then review (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43041231)

There may be significant room for improvement in the current academic/scientific publishing system.
    Currently the review process is hidden/controlled by the publishers.
      This is good in that they can line up reviews.
        It's bad in that it's a closed system serving the publisher's profit needs.
        The motive for the publisher to do good work is indirect in that in good publications may have a wider subscriber base.
          (Interesting articles may trump good science in this regard?)

With the web, it should be possible to create a site where anybody can publish anything.
          The site would need to be able to accept reviews and updates to what is published.
          This might also allow the review process to stretch over time allowing initially oddball articles to gain traction over time.
              Readers could choose to read anything, or limit their choices to acceptably review articles.
          There would need to be some method to rate both reviewers and paper writers.
              Good reviewers should get recognition just like good paper writers do now in academia.
                  This might provide a replacement incentive to reviewers that the current publishers are able to do.

Re:Need new plan, publish first then review (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041555)

I see you've also introduced a new plan of text layout, without first having it reviewed.

My review would have hinted that the content was lost in the layout, but I wasn't asked.

Re:Need new plan, publish first then review (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | about a year and a half ago | (#43043427)

These sites already exist. ArXiv for instance will publish anything (after complete crap detection). Wordpress will publish anything at all
(with no complete crap detection).

Re:Need new plan, publish first then review (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43045339)

Wordpress will publish anything at all (with no complete crap detection).

There's anything other than complete crap on Wordpress?

Elsevier Board Member (4, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041463)

When someone pointed out that the Op/Ed author is on the Board, the author missed the point, and said, "Yeah, I could resign, but why?".

He missed the point that "HEY!! I'M ON THE BOARD. MY OPINION MAY BE BIASED!!!"

Re:Elsevier Board Member (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year and a half ago | (#43045345)

The conflict of interest explains why his arguments were so weak. But I already disagreed before I knew that part. Boycotting Elsevier is boycotting your colleagues? Oh really? And, science should be separate from politics. Yeah, sure, Mom and apple pie. But let's not apply that standard selectively.

Good to see that no one else bought it either, but then I expected as much. Researchers ought to be among the toughest people to fool with bad logic. I don't think he missed the point. Instead, I think he's trying to blow that fact off. It's like he thinks research makes people into naive innocents about stuff like that, or hopes they're all too busy scrambling to be first with new research to pay much attention. And it is a distraction for everyone except possibly those doing research into human behavior and maybe game theory.

'Epijournals' are an arXiv overlay project (5, Informative)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041587)

For those not familiar with the arXiv, it is a preprint server service that is free (expenses footed by multiple institutions around the world, notably Cornell University in the USA.) Researchers upload their preprints generally about the time that they submit the article for consideration for publication at a typical (eg. primarily dead-tree) journal. The article will be considered, accepted, rejected, modified etc. by the journal, which has generally asked other academics to review it (for free, motivated by a sense of community, typically) and then sometimes the author makes changes and gives the final version to the journal. They may or may not update the arXiv posting to reflect the changes (typos, revisions, serious issues) that have been made in response to the reviewing process. In any case, most of the people actually interested in the result will have long seen the arXiv posting long before the journal publication happens, so the journal is principally playing the role of a validator about importance, significance, originality, correctness, etc. rather than dissemination, for those who submit their work to the arXiv.

Different disciplines have different levels of participation in the arXiv; high-energy physics and many areas of math generally have broad participation, whereas computer science, statistics, and other areas in math have lower overall levels and different publishing culture.

What the Epijournals [episciences.org] are a project to have the validation process be similar, but not to bother with the actually having a (primarily dead-tree) journal. Rather, they will be overlays to the arXiv so the hosting and logistical expenses are all already sorted out. There are multiple free electronic journals, but the costs associated with archiving, etc. are generally either borne from "page charges" to authors, various institutional support options, or private generosity. See for example the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics [combinatorics.org] a long-standing top journal in combinatorics. With the hosting on the arXiv, this should remove one of the barriers to entry for new journals.

Re:'Epijournals' are an arXiv overlay project (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041979)

Very informative.

There are multiple free electronic journals, but the costs associated with archiving, etc. are generally either borne from "page charges" to authors, various institutional support options, or private generosity.

One wonders about the actual costs involved in hosting electronic journals. Is the volume that high that this is a serious issue?

You can finding hosting companies for under $100/year (including an SSL cert) which will supply a mountain of storage and bandwidth.
Documents simply aren't that big, 6 to 10 meg seems about the maximum size, and the volume is probably low. It would seem charging authors would serve primarily to keep the junk science quacks at bay.

It would see to me that website management would be the largest cost item. I imagine the largest job would be for someone to categorize, catalog, index, all of those documents or an automated process to do this at the time of submission, but someone has to be a gatekeeper. Who funds that employee? How do they even make payroll?

Re:'Epijournals' are an arXiv overlay project (3, Informative)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042125)

It's not the bandwidth expenses; there is a staff and moderation and a great deal of effort to make it as useful as it it.

There is a very competent staff and a good description of the arXiv expenses in their FAQ [arxiv.org] . Cornell has been trying to get other institutions to contribute as well; everyone agrees the arXiv is amazingly useful and hopefully the expense will be shared across many institutions. Current institutional contributors are listed here [cornell.edu] already, to the tune of under $3k/year each institution. The Simons Foundation has given a good amount of money towards expenses as well, $50k/year.

Their operating costs are laid out transparently in this document [cornell.edu] and come to about $800k a year, with Cornell contributing $300k a year presently. There are 3 full-time-equivalent staff positions which make up most of that. The hosting expenses are about $80k a year presently it seems.

Re:'Epijournals' are an arXiv overlay project (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042185)

80k for hosting?

Tell me you forgot a decimal point!

8k would be overkill!

Re:'Epijournals' are an arXiv overlay project (3, Informative)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042357)

I did misread what is there; $80k/year is the total for direct expenses. Those include "Server costs" $41,700/year, and "Network bandwidth & telephony" of $1550/year and the rest is staff computers, staff travel, and advisory board travel. I have no idea about hosting costs in general. My experience with the arXiv has been that they are very cost-efficient compared to many academic institutions. They do have millions of downloads and some of those articles are hundreds of pages long. I suspect they are quite cautious when it comes to secure archiving and so on, but I don't know much about that.

It is interesting to compare those institutions that have paid the $3000: here [cornell.edu] with the heaviest users listed here [arxiv.org] and see where the gaps are.

Re:'Epijournals' are an arXiv overlay project (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43043315)

80k for hosting?

Tell me you forgot a decimal point!

8k would be overkill!

Quite apart from the fact that the actual hosting costs are only about half that, you have to bear in mind that long-term archives have more costs than cheap-ass hosting. In particular, they've got to keep multiple copies of everything on multiple sites so that if some disaster hits they don't lose everything. If it was just about keeping one copy online as cheap as possible, the scientists would just put it on their personal webpage and maybe put another in Dropbox.

Archival isn't cheap! Work out for yourself how much would it cost to guarantee that the document will still be available 20 years from now...

Re:'Epijournals' are an arXiv overlay project (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | about a year and a half ago | (#43043435)

My journals use CLOCKKS or LOCKKS. Basically, their long term digital preservation plan is to have libraries underwrite them.

In practice, journals going bust is the best thing that could happen in many cases. The content would become free, without fear
of prosecution.

Other resignations (5, Informative)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041767)

I did find that other prominent people are resigning from Elsevier boards; here's a senior researcher in malaria [malariaworld.org] resigned from an editorial board on the life-sciences side. His motivation was particularly strong- he is working in malaria research, and the idea that people who could benefit from the research may well be not able to pay for the paywall is abhorrent. But I think the same rationale applies to all of science- why keep research from people who cannot pay for it?

In other Elsevier news, I found some more journal shenanigans described here [wordpress.com] which include both rigging the reviews to be sock-puppet reviews and getting into their editorial board systems, resulting in yet more retractions.

amusing on several fronts... (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43041967)

First, the man complaining about politicising the issue has a clear conflict of interest, and his editorial is on a site that requires registration with review to even post an anonymous comment.

The revelation that there are people *outside* normal academia that desperately want access to valuable, and high quality materials, if for no other reason than self-education, and that those people have opinions that are worthy of being heard appears to be a completely alien concept to him, and his publisher.

Throw into that, that he fails to understand why elsevier specifically gets so much bad press that there is a boycott focusing on them specifically further paints a bullseye on just how deeply his head is stuck in the echo chamber. (Nevermind that the issue has been politicised by same said publisher first and foremost already, by pushing for legislation to blockade grant money to academics using open access journals, which is what started the whole shitstorm to begin with, as was pointed out to him in the "registered users only" comments section of his blog post. )

Add in the naivete' about his intrinsic biases, and the whole post becomes overwhelmingly amusing to an outsider like myself.

Re:amusing on several fronts... (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042421)

Heck, Elsevier generally remains hostile/ignorant to the idea that there are people *inside* "normal academia that desperately want access to valuable, and high quality materials, if for no other reason than self-education, and that those people have opinions that are worthy of being heard." No, neither I (out-of-pocket) nor my research group can afford $85 single reprint fees to gamble on whether potentially interesting title/abstract papers are relevant to our research. Tracking down references from other papers, only to find they've been published in a semi-obscure Elsevier journal (hence likely inaccessible even through my top-tier research university's library subscriptions), means I've hit a dead end --- and any useful information has been forever lost even from *inside* the highest levels of ivory-towerdom.

Re:amusing on several fronts... (4, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042825)

I don't doubt that you can't. There is this prevaling (and completely false) notion that academics, scientists, and researchers are rolling in taxpayer money, and can afford to pay high, high prices.

The truth of the matter is that quality research requires riggorous conditions, and quality equipment and premises, and those things aren't cheap. Academics, scientists, and professional researchers (outside of tenured university profs putting their names on student papers to increase their publishing scores while basially doing nothing themselves) are actually so close to dead ass broke most of the time just trying to keep their research labs open and producing papers that are worth a shit that the notion is absurd!

Up until the recent mass exodus over their cardinal sin of trying to blockade grant money, they held a priviledged position of being a prestigious publisher, (despite all the shennanigans), and it was taboo not to publish through them or another paid publisher, if you wanted your research to actually be read, discussed, and reviewed. Now, however, the proverbial final straw has been laid on the camel's back, and enough reputable scientists and academics have created open access alternatives that the taboo is gone, and their 'prestige' is no longer worth the abuse, and could even be considered 'infamy' for many of the unscrupulous tactics it has undertaken concerning sockpuppet reviews, false publications, and outright academically dishonest tactics. I dare say, it is more taboo now TO use elsevier than not to!

I don't know how many times I have wanted to look at more meaty things than just an abstract on a number of life science and organic chemistry papers, only to be bitchslapped by elsevier's twitching and upturned palm grasping wildly at my wallet, and even in some cases, refusing to even LET me buy unless I owned a library, or were a published researcher.

I yearn for an internet where I can surf pubmed, or similarly searchable catalog, and you know-- actually GET the damned paper without submitting to a rectal examination and a total cashectomy, and without being treated like second class trash. Last I checked, initiative to LEARN was a VIRTUE! The "you must be this big to ride" bullshit in academic publishing is horrendously intolerable, especially in light of the fact that many genuine researchers don't even meet the mark!

seriously, shit like this is unbelievably destructive to academia. What kind of message does it send to valuable and hungry minds when they get told flat out that they just aren't good enough to even READ the current research, just because they aren't members of some arbitrarily priviledged demograhic? How many people that WOULD have made contributions walk away disgusted each day, and become embittered, and closed to knowledge by this? And for what? The personal greed of the publishers? Publishing companies are supposed to SERVE academic discourse. NOT the other fucking way around!

I fully understand the need for sanitization on publications. I don't want to read "scholarly articles" on how baby jesus loves me, or on how to build purpetual motion/overunity devices, or other crackpottery anymore than any other serious and earnest reader would, but when that review is already done for free as part of the academic community, and not done by the publisher, what sensible explanation is there for that service to be charged for by said publisher?

Seriously, I have some very brainy hobbies that often require more detailed information than simple factoids like boiling points, vapor pressure, and the like for chemical substances, and which would greatly benefit from reading papers on things like rates of dissolution of alkaline earth ions in different kinds of molten silicate glasses, and how temperature and atmosphere type might impact those, or how different metalurgical compositions behave under novel conditions, and the like. I would spend a lot less time and resources trying to conduct experiments that have already been performed under far superior conditions and which have been well reviewed if I could just GET that information instead, and my hobbies would be a lot more valuable to me and possibly to others as a consequence.

Case in point, there was a thought experiment I had creep into my head, and I wanted to know the distribution curve for neutron absorbtion over time weighted against intensity and neutron energy for several common metal alloys. (As an engineer, I think about many things, and space vehicle design is often one of those things.) Paywalled. Well cited; Big ass price tag. No alternate publishers.

If I didn't want to pay, I would have to either beg the local library to try to get such an obscure paper for me, beg the university physics dept to get it for me, or build a farnsworth fuser, buy a geiger counter, lots of samples, and conduct the research myself at great expense and get inferior results due to inferior equipment. Why? Because there wasn't enough information available for material choice in light of the unusual conditions of interplanetary space, and material choice plays an unbelievably important role in how you would go about designing such a craft. Result: thought experiment aborted.

The reason we conduct basic research like that is to answer those questions, to fascilitate those kinds of thought experiments, because useful questions come from them, and useful questions drive the furtherence of knowledge.

Paywalling the research fundementally breaks that utility.

It's bullshit.

That so many researchers are moving this direction excites and thrills me, though I think a lot of damage has already been done.

Sorry to rant like that, but as an outsider to the academic debate, voices like mine are usually never heard, and treated like they don't exist. That makes me very displeased, to say the least.

Re:amusing on several fronts... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#43044797)

Sorry to rant like that, but as an outsider to the academic debate, voices like mine are usually never heard, and treated like they don't exist.

Don't apologize. Speaking as an academic insider, I think it was a fine rant, and one that should be heard far and wide.

Re:amusing on several fronts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43044185)

Throw into that, that he fails to understand why elsevier specifically gets so much bad press that there is a boycott focusing on them specifically further paints a bullseye on just how deeply his head is stuck in the echo chamber .

I think you misspelled "rectum."

Elementary Deduction Based On Evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43042507)

Very Good Indeed.

Speaking of the ACM and access, (4, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | about a year and a half ago | (#43042775)

I'm a member and yet they're totally untransparent about how the digital library works and what limits exist for downloading from it.

I've been trying to download several sets of conference proceedings—a couple thousand articles (two conferences, less than 10 years each)—to do some analysis on them for a research project.

Trying to play the good guy, I asked how they'd prefer me to do this and/or whether they could supply a better means for obtaining these.
"Manually" was the only answer I got.
So I did. Click, click, click in my browser. Incredibly labor intensive.
Before I was even 10 percent done, an hour in, I got blocked and a warning email.
Asked again.
"Manually" was the answer that came back again.
I said I was doing it manually; asked what daily limits (files, bandwidth, whatever) they'd prefer I stay under.
"Manually" was the terse and non-sequitur answer.

Basically, this is emblematic. I am a paying member. I have legitimate access under terms of service. I'm a researcher. I have a narrow and well-defined need and purpose for downloading a narrow and well-defined set of articles. And I'm already doing it fscking manually.

I am unable to find out how to get them without running afoul of some hidden threshold, and unable to find out what this threshold is so as to stay under it. It won't make me stop trying to assemble the conference proceedings I need, but it may cause me to stop paying for ACM membership next year.

As an academic, I also have access to many of the same repositories as do others. But the Aaron Swartz case and my own experience with the ACM (who I've previously been fond of) tells me that the current academic publishing model is inherently antagonistic toward openness. It is not just about practical constraints to encourage production and discourage abuse; it is about ensuring that knowledge is a black box only available to the anointed, with rules and properties only available to the anointed. It is about restricting access for reasons other than mundane, practical ones, and about ensuring that even the nature of the restrictions is hidden so that ideological "threats" to the system can be dealt with arbitrarily, which wouldn't be possible with open rules.

It's time to publish on open systems and let peer review happen in the open as well. And I say this as someone that is published in journals and that sat as managing editor for a Springer journal for some time.

Re:Speaking of the ACM and access, (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43043323)

And I'm already doing it fscking manually.

No you're not! You're using a computer! You've got to download stuff off their system manually! As in no computer used at all.

(I'm almost tempted to suggest farming the work out with Amazon Mechanical Turk except then there'd be the hassle of getting past their paywall. What a bunch of incompetent jerks.)

Re:Speaking of the ACM and access, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43043325)

I'm a member

There's your problem.

Re:Speaking of the ACM and access, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43044821)

I'm a member and yet they're totally untransparent about how the digital library works and what limits exist for downloading from it.

I've been trying to download several sets of conference proceedings—a couple thousand articles (two conferences, less than 10 years each)—to do some analysis on them for a research project.

Trying to play the good guy, I asked how they'd prefer me to do this and/or whether they could supply a better means for obtaining these.
"Manually" was the only answer I got.
So I did. Click, click, click in my browser. Incredibly labor intensive.
Before I was even 10 percent done, an hour in, I got blocked and a warning email.
Asked again.
"Manually" was the answer that came back again.
I said I was doing it manually; asked what daily limits (files, bandwidth, whatever) they'd prefer I stay under.
"Manually" was the terse and non-sequitur answer.

Basically, this is emblematic. I am a paying member. I have legitimate access under terms of service. I'm a researcher. I have a narrow and well-defined need and purpose for downloading a narrow and well-defined set of articles. And I'm already doing it fscking manually.

I am unable to find out how to get them without running afoul of some hidden threshold, and unable to find out what this threshold is so as to stay under it. It won't make me stop trying to assemble the conference proceedings I need, but it may cause me to stop paying for ACM membership next year.

As an academic, I also have access to many of the same repositories as do others. But the Aaron Swartz case and my own experience with the ACM (who I've previously been fond of) tells me that the current academic publishing model is inherently antagonistic toward openness. It is not just about practical constraints to encourage production and discourage abuse; it is about ensuring that knowledge is a black box only available to the anointed, with rules and properties only available to the anointed. It is about restricting access for reasons other than mundane, practical ones, and about ensuring that even the nature of the restrictions is hidden so that ideological "threats" to the system can be dealt with arbitrarily, which wouldn't be possible with open rules.

It's time to publish on open systems and let peer review happen in the open as well. And I say this as someone that is published in journals and that sat as managing editor for a Springer journal for some time.

I tend to agree. ACM is an interesting organization that generally says one thing but does the opposite. If you try to download anywhere more than two or three papers from their library, you could immediately be suspended in your account, or even worse, blocked for your IP. I am currently a member of ACM, but I don't think they are treating their members in any way that is fair in terms of accessing its library. Furthermore, it is behaving even worse than Elsevier or Springer in such cases: I have not yet experienced problems with the latter when I try to download, say, 5 papers at the same time!!

Re:Speaking of the ACM and access, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43048503)

This. Is. Why. I. Am. No. Longer. A. Member. Of. ACM. FULLSTOP

I write the papers for free (to them). I review other papers for them for free (to them). They require me to sign a copyright form assigning all publication rights to them. And then they have the gall to prevent me, a member, from accessing related work? (I am especially torqued that they charge me to access the published copy of my own work.) Bzzzzt. Game over. Die scum, die!

-Anon

Re:Speaking of the ACM and access, (1)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#43049899)

The ACM is pretty terrible on this front and compares very poorly to other professional societies, for example the American Mathematics Society. AMS has more reasonable fees, much more reasonable copyright assignment for their journals, charges less for their journals, does not have some difficult-to-use online journal system, and in fact their modestly-priced journals and books effectively subsidize the rest of their operations. The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics is also good by all these measures. Both of them are much smaller than the ACM. The ACM has a glossier magazine, though, so there is that.

Hmm...what about an NDA? (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43043951)

Maintaining scarcity is a direct way to control the supply-side of the price v. supply curve. This is reason enough for companies like Elsevier to maintain a paywall. But there are other ways -- academic reputation has value as well, so it can be leveraged to help maintain the scarcity. It is conceivable that companies like Elsevier will begin to demand NDAs from submitters. Submitters will be faced with the choice of accepting the NDA in order to be published in a mainstream journal, or rejecting it and having to rely on non-mainstream journals as a vehicle for their academic credentials, which might put their academic careers at risk. NB: I'm not endorsing this tactic by saying it is conceivable, I'm only pointing it out as one way that Elsevier and their ilk could protect their business model.

Not a problem in CS? (1)

cryptizard (2629853) | about a year and a half ago | (#43044927)

In my field (cryptography) and, as far I know, CS in general there is no problem with open-access. All the major conferences and journals allow you to put copies of your articles on your own personal page (or something like eprint.iacr.org) and literally 100% of people opt to do this. I have never wanted to read an article and not been able to find it on one of the authors sites or on a preprint server. Google Scholar will even do all the work for you and find copies of articles wherever they are posted if you are too lazy to look yourself. That way we get the benefits of the traditional conference/journal organization but none of the drawbacks.
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