Petition to make taxpayer funded science research paywalless

Like many of you, I get tired of paywalls, especially when there’s “science by press release” yet the paper remains hidden from the public while the paper gets wide MSM coverage.

So I’ve reposted from Lucia’s The Blackboard (be sure to bookmark the site) to get wide distribution. She writes:

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A reader who is sick and tired of having to pay for publicly funded research being hidden behind pay-walls passed this request along.

One month after it was created (on May 13) and a week before it will be closed to signatures (on June 19), the White House Open Access petition (which I pointed Language Log readers to on May 23) now has 26,768 signatures — 1,768 more than the 25,000 threshold! By my calculation, the average rate was over 1,190 signatures a day from the first to the 25,000th signature (by “David L” of Holmdel, NJ, who signed on June 3 — three weeks after the petition was created); after that, the rate dropped to just shy of 177 a day. No reason to slow down the pace now! If you agree with the petition, please sign it and/or pass it on to your agreeable friends — send a strong message to Washington that “[e]xpanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our [public] investment in scientific research.”

It appears the petition has met the threshold to pass– but some must wish for us to show that we really, really, really want the Obama to issue a directive to require the results of publicly funded research to be freely available. (That is– not behind paywalls.) You can learn more at:

To sign the petition visit the petition page.

If required, create an account like I did; if you have an account, sign in. Find the grey (or green) “sign the petition” button. Adding your name will help show that many people really would like the president to sign this directive.

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Thanks to Lucia.

PLEASE REPOST THIS WHEREVER YOU CAN

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83 thoughts on “Petition to make taxpayer funded science research paywalless

  1. My privilege to sign, and a strong vote for transparency, unlike that experienced by EPA researcher Carlin a few years back!

    Hope you use Fast Drying ink!

  2. There’s not a chance in heck they’d do that. The skeptics shred all of the papers that get out. This would just open the flood gates. But, I’ll see about signing. It would be a hoot to have open season!

  3. Can I sign it if I’m Scottish? No, I’m not asking whether I’m literate, or haven’t mistakenly cut off my thumbs attempting to kill the haggis after the hunt on the Moss.

    REPLY: Probably not, this is a US taxpayer issue – Anthony

  4. I think it’s important for people to note, as from the petition itself, “The highly successful Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health proves that this can be done without disrupting the research process.” We can do this without “hurting” journals, as there are already open access journals out there. The fact is we already paid for this research, it only makes sense we get to share in the fruits. And better yet, this will help researchers country wide, and spur much better innovation and advances. So much research is buried and forgotten because in part by paywalls blocking access to them from interested individuals.

  5. This is not a taxpayer issue as long as you don’t want governments to step in to fund scientific journals. You will need to find a business model for the journals that allows them to print or publish scientific papers online without compensation. Some journals are very costly to publish (e.g. the EGU journals), but in return they publish papers freely on their website. Others (e.g. Elsevier) are more gentle on the researcher in publication fee, but are paywalled.

  6. A lot of this is due to the publishers such as Springer and Elsevier. They charge authors to publish and readers to read the papers. They will fight this all the way. Even ACS will charge for papers unless you are a member (American Chemical Society). And I am sure most technical societies have to do this to pay for the cost of publication and review (and all the overhead of the editorial staff). This will be a messy problem to address.
    Bob

  7. i fear that such a law would have unintended consequences. In particular, I’m not sure it is legally valid to say that *scientific* research must be made available for free, when there are other areas of research that also get taxpayer funding. And some of those areas would be seriously harmed by such a policy, especially those for which books rather than articles are most important. The National Endowment for the Humanities, to pick the most prominent example, gives some grants specifically for book projects — books that would not find a publisher if the content had to be given away. Perhaps if the law is specific to journal articles that would work, but then I’d expect a lot of long articles to start being turned into short books. Overall, I’m not sure how one legislates that scientific research — a category that is not clearly defined, though that can be solved by naming the agencies involved — must be made free, but not all types of research.

    I’m not sure there’s a good solution, but there does seem to be a risk that even a narrowly focused bill aimed just at scientific journals will ultimately lead to significant harm for some types of taxpayer-funded research.

    I would be interested to know what any lawyers — preferably, lawyers competent to talk about this area of federal law — think.

  8. Balazs says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm
    Others (e.g. Elsevier) are more gentle on the researcher in publication fee, but are paywalled.
    It would be of interest to know how much the publisher actually collects from pay walled papers. As most people will not pay $30-50 to see a pay-walled paper, I suspect the revenue from such be so small that it does not make a significant impact on the business model. But, does anybody actually know?

  9. Scottish Sceptic says:
    June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Can I sign it if I’m Scottish? No, I’m not asking whether I’m literate, or haven’t mistakenly cut off my thumbs attempting to kill the haggis after the hunt on the Moss.

    REPLY: Probably not, this is a US taxpayer issue – Anthony
    =================================================
    SS, first, I’d like to state how unfair that was to clarify before we could respond. But, I’d like you to try anyway. I’d like to see if you can.

  10. Balazs says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm
    This is not a taxpayer issue as long as you don’t want governments to step in to fund scientific journals. You will need to find a business model for the journals that allows them to print or publish scientific papers online without compensation.>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Tax funder paid research should be published by the tax payer funded institution. There is no need anymore for a “journal”. This is the information age, and hanging onto concepts like “journals” that require a “business model” to function is total nonsense.

  11. I wonder who really sees these things? It looks like anyone with an “whitehouse.gov” account can create a petition and if it gets 25K signatures in a month, then I guess someone at the White House will look at it to see if the issue will help the President’s re-election campaign.

    I suspect the chance of this having any effect on policy is about as likely as pole-vaulting with a rope.

  12. Addendum to previous, lest anything think I’m just being cynical: I will sign this as soon as I get home and have access to the email account I used to set it up.

  13. Scottish Sceptic says:
    “Can I sign it if I’m Scottish? No, I’m not asking whether I’m literate, or haven’t mistakenly cut off my thumbs attempting to kill the haggis after the hunt on the Moss.”

    “REPLY: Probably not, this is a US taxpayer issue – Anthony”

    By the same token, the petition to recall Walker in Wisconsin was signed by Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daffy Duck, and Adolph Hitler.

  14. In many fields the journals charge submission fees that cover the costs of paying referees to do the peer review. The university typically reimburses the faculty researcher for the submission fee. Journals could just raise the submission fee, then university’s can raise tuition to cover the cost, and taxpayers/students are paying for their ‘free access’ to the paywalled journal articles. However, I still agree that the results and the data associated with any research project funded by the federal government should be freely available to the public.

  15. @Scottish Sceptic

    I signed – my zip code is some business in some state. I’m the other side of Hadrian’s Wall from you, but in the same country.

    Hamish (founder member of Friends of Hadrian – & friends of Uffa, for that matter)

  16. If you want a copy of a research article, then send the lead author a reprint request card by email.
    Back on the old days before the use of photocoperies, it was customary for the lead author to purchase reprints which he would send upon request. He would also maintain a mailing list and send to his collegues a reprint. He did this to make sure his papers would cited in a future articles by them and to make sure they don’t tread upon his turf.

    The postcard usually stated:

    Dear Sir,
    I would be appreciative if you would send to me a reprint of your paper:
    title would be stated here

    published in: journal ref would be given here.

    Please send the reprint to: the name and the address of the requester would be given here.

    Back in the old days it only cost 5 cents to send a postcard. However, as postage rates soared, it became cheaper to photocopy the article from the journal at the univ library. Back in those days, the pace of research was slow, and the public had no interest in basic research. But times have changed.

    I don’t know if authors of papers are allowed to send copies via email, They still can purchase and send reprints the old-fashioned way.

    If you know a student at a college or university, ask him to get you a copy of the article via the internet.
    However, he can only do this if library has a subscription to the journal. Give him a small gift card for food. for his efforts. Young students are always hungry.

    I

  17. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm
    I wonder who really sees these things? It looks like anyone with an “whitehouse.gov” account can create a petition and if it gets 25K signatures in a month, then I guess someone at the White House will look at it to see if the issue will help the President’s re-election campaign.

    I suspect the chance of this having any effect on policy is about as likely as pole-vaulting with a rope.
    ======================
    Nonetheless.
    # 26,959
    :)

  18. Dr. Bob says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    A lot of this is due to the publishers such as Springer and Elsevier. They charge authors to publish and readers to read the papers. They will fight this all the way. Even ACS will charge for papers unless you are a member (American Chemical Society). And I am sure most technical societies have to do this to pay for the cost of publication and review (and all the overhead of the editorial staff). This will be a messy problem to address.
    Bob

    I thought the issue was not so much the journals, which certainly exploit the stuff they are fed – but the research itself. If the research itself is government / taxpayer funded, seems logical to assume it ought to be made available through an organ of government (not one of the lower digestive ones either). Perhaps NIS could buy The Journal of Irreproducible Results and publish all government / university funded research therein? Having a single, fat journal dedicated to that end would have the same salubrious results as putting all the toxic mortgage backe securities in a “bad bank”. People could just stay away from it then.

  19. Journals still have a place, pretty much the same one as now. Its real function (and that of the peer-review process they employ) is to prove a forum where you can (in theory) be guaranteed that you will only see good quality research papers. The journal provides a filtering service.

    That doesn’t change if the papers are otherwise freely available. Its much easier to subscribe to a journal (especially if the highly inflated fees charged are paid by the taxpayer) than it is to scour a huge number of papers, mostly garbage, scattered over thousands of websites and libraries.

  20. I signed.

    John W
    Northville, NY
    June 14, 2012
    Signature # 26,908

    I noticed at least one signature that appeared to be from Canada (Quebec) and at least one signature that appeared to be from Australia (Adelaide).

    John

  21. @davidmhoffer – a very good point re the information age. I would add that water tends to find it’s own level. The robust papers, published in freely available format for the benefit of science, and able to withstand the scrutiny of the wider public scientific community, with source data available, would be of much greater impact and credibility than a pal-reviewed shonky research paper hidden away behind a paywall, for only friends and family to see, with no transparency in the data used.

  22. If the paper is not sent with access to base data it should be rejected by all professional peers. No data no peer review = no “PROOF” = no new grant money. Science is to be tested by the scientific method = WITHOUT THIS THERE IS NO SCIENCE ALL WILL BE “OPINION.”

  23. davidmhoffer says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Tax funder paid research should be published by the tax payer funded institution. There is no need anymore for a “journal”. This is the information age, and hanging onto concepts like “journals” that require a “business model” to function is total nonsense.

    – – – – – – –

    davidmhoffer,

    I tend to agree with you. The scientific journal as it typically exists today is mostly a holdover from the late 19th century. The pace of the modern developed world and communication technology has moved beyond the old concept of journals.

    John

  24. Good idea. The current pay-wall journals have a quasi monopoly. University libraries have to have the main journals in their field, basically irrespective of the subscription price. Researchers only want to publish in those journals that are in every library.

    The consequence is monopoly profits for the scientific publishers of 30 to 40%. And scientists do most of the work, they write the articles and they review the articles. As most of these scientists are government funded, you can see this as a luxury subsidy of the state to the publishers.

    Open Access journals can be read by everyone. Thus you can publish in any one (if the article is interesting, people will find it) and the monopoly power is much less. Consequently the total costs to society will be much lower.

    Added benefits are that also scientists from poor countries, can read all journals. Furthermore, journalists can link to open-access articles and are thus forced to stay closer to the truth, as the reader can check the statements in the article. And the irrational fear of conspiracies may also decrease when every citizen can read scientific articles.

  25. Scottish Skeptic –

    Uh, looking at the profile I created for an account, after “Edit Profile”, under the tab for “Personal Information”, it appears that anyone in the WORLD can subscribe to an account at this web site. They even helpfully show a list for every country on the globe, including North Korea. Sorry, no Scotland. Guess you are stuck with the United Kingdom entry. Pity.

  26. Scottish Sceptic said:
    June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm
    Can I sign it if I’m Scottish? No, I’m not asking whether I’m literate, or haven’t mistakenly cut off my thumbs attempting to kill the haggis after the hunt on the Moss.
    ———————————
    REPLY: Probably not, this is a US taxpayer issue – Anthony
    =====================
    Give it a try SS; eric holder and obama want to let illegal aliens and dead people vote in national elections ( http://tinyurl.com/7avyxxt ), so a Scot signing a US petition should be okay.

    Oh wait – that would not redound to obama’s benefit. Never mind…

  27. Just keep in mind the other side of that coin. Someone has to pay to have the research published. If readers don’t, the scientists do. Even now it can cost upwards of $1000 for the authors to have an article published in a paywalled journal. It costs money to have an editor take care of getting reviews etc. The cost will go up if access is free. That’s not necessarily bad, but people need to be aware of that.

  28. Leif Svalgaard says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Balazs says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm
    Others (e.g. Elsevier) are more gentle on the researcher in publication fee, but are paywalled.
    It would be of interest to know how much the publisher actually collects from pay walled papers. As most people will not pay $30-50 to see a pay-walled paper, I suspect the revenue from such be so small that it does not make a significant impact on the business model. But, does anybody actually know?

    Although I agree these papers should not be pay walled and should be public domain papers on the university or other agency web site, I bet they would make a lot more money if they charged a token handling fee rather than a high pay wall fee.

    If they only hit you $2.00 to down load the paper most folks would probably do that with no more consideration than they do to spending similar fees for downloading music or movies. The profit equation involves both markup and volume. If cheap enough, average technically curious citizens would down load the papers rather than a few dozen professionals in the field.

  29. Leif Svalgaard says: June 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm
    It would be of interest to know how much the publisher actually collects from pay walled papers.
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    About $8 billion if Reuters is to be believed:
    “The genteel but lucrative world of academic publishing is being stirred up by a dispute over who pays for and who profits from scientific research funded largely by taxpayers. Scientists’ careers are made, and broken, by the quality and volume of articles describing new discoveries that they publish in top journals like Nature, Science and Cell. And it’s big business, with the market in academic journals worth about $8 billion a year globally, according to analyst estimates.”

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/06/13/us-science-publishing-open-access-idUKBRE85B0SH20120613

    Ironically ‘Science’ has an article about open access which is behind a paywall.
    “Over the past decade, “open access” has gained momentum as a model for scientific publishing, intended to makes results freely accessible to the scientific community and to the public on the Internet.”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6074/1279.summary

    There is a Directory of Open Access Journals.

    http://www.doaj.org/doaj?func=home&uiLanguage=en

    There is some interesting research going on into reproducibility but only in the psychological field as part of the Open Science Framework:

    “Do normative practices and incentive structures in science produce a biased body of research evidence? We hypothesize that they do, and we aim to test the possibility empirically.

    ” If there is a problem in research and publication practices, then it is our problem. We want to understand the extent of the problem so that we can develop and implement the appropriate correctives. Those correctives would address the standard processes and incentive systems that push scientific practices out of alignment with scientific values.”

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FcWLfASVXPkLuTVQmbZKvpkPsgrW8XKPGfWJqnSnmeM/edit?pli=1

    http://openscienceframework.org/project/EZcUj/wiki/home

    Google already have an advantage as this research has found:
    “Google, Google Scholar, OAIster and OpenDOAR were used to try to locate OA versions of peer reviewed journal articles drawn from three subjects (ecology, economics, and sociology).
    Findings – Of the 2519 articles 967 were found to have OA versions on the WWW. Google and Google Scholar found 76.84% of them.”

    https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/4084?mode=full&submit_simple=Show+full+item+record

    Of course climate science in particular needs open access:
    Dr Boehmer-Christiansen gave the following evidence to the Muir Russell Enquiry:
    “As editor of a journal which remained open to scientists who challenged the
    orthodoxy, I became the target of a number of CRU manoeuvres. The hacked
    emails revealed attempts to manipulate peer review to E&E’s disadvantage, and showed that libel threats were considered against its editorial team. Dr Jones even tried to put pressure on my university department. The emailers expressed anger over my publication of several papers that questioned the “hockey stick” graph and the reliability of CRU temperature data. The desire to control the peer review process in their favour is expressed several times”.

    From the Russell Enquiry:
    “Horton notes that ‘the scientific literature is littered with retractions of papers that once passed the test of peer review‘. The biomedical database Medline (which includes over 19 million citations) currently contains nearly 1500 retractions. There have also been well-documented cases of journals failing to recognise important work. There is even a website devoted to accounts of journals that have rejected work that later led to their authors winning the Nobel prize.”

    http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf

    From ‘Nature’ in 2003:
    “Juan Miguel Campanario, a physicist at the University of Alcalá in Madrid, Spain, has compiled
    a list of more than 20 Nobel laureates’ rejections by many journals, and recollections by many more of resistance by their peers (see www2.uah.es/jmc).

    “Nevertheless — a final moral — rejected authors who are convinced
    of the ground-breaking value of their controversial conclusions
    should persist. A final rejection on the grounds of questionable
    significance may mean that one journal has closed its door on you,but
    that is no reason to be cowed into silence. Remember, as you seek a
    different home for your work, that you are in wonderful company.”

    http://www2.uah.es/jmc/peer%20rejection.pdf

  30. As a UK bod I’m obviously not eligible for a petition aimed at US administration, but I entirely agree with the sentiment: maybe the ‘taxpayer-funded’ material should be freely available on a government site with a short time lapse – say a fortnight, after the magazine has ensured its readership/ regular income.
    I have to say I found it amusing, if not ironic, that Lucia’s site features on this issue; as often as not in the last 12 months when I try to visit there I’m greeted with a Red and Black refusal notice.
    Goodness knows what I’ve done to deserve this, having never so far as I can recall done more than READ the posts/comments, but her site is gradually slipping down my preferred list!

  31. @Leif Svalgaard says:
    It would be of interest to know how much the publisher actually collects from pay walled papers. As most people will not pay $30-50 to see a pay-walled paper, I suspect the revenue from such be so small that it does not make a significant impact on the business model. But, does anybody actually know?
    ==================================

    I know nothing about the financial aspects of running a journal but often a business will charge a high up casual fee for the real purpose of encouraging subscriptions.

  32. Is it behind paywalls because these rent seekers are in it for the lavish funding? Of course not.

    Imagine going to your local supermarket and paying for a packet of butter and not being allowed to take it away!
    Free our data and put it on the net for non peer reviewed pressure. Pressure that yields results. ;)

  33. mfo, Leif is asking about how much the journals make from one-off paywalled article purchases. The regular subscription fees are huge and would make up, I suspect, the great majority of the $8B you cited. The question is whether selling paywalled articles contributes significantly to their bottom line.

  34. This is typical special interest BS. Does the National Research Council or Science and dozens of other receive tax funding. Then it has already been paid for. If the researcher from his grant must pay journal costs and that grant is tax dollars, it has already been paid for. If the data collection and researcher costs are tax funded it has been paid for. If needed just take the US contribution to the IPCC away and take down the pay walls with that.

  35. Scottish Sceptic says:
    June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Can I sign it if I’m Scottish? No, I’m not asking whether I’m literate, or haven’t mistakenly cut off my thumbs attempting to kill the haggis after the hunt on the Moss.

    You reminded me of a time I was in Scotland with a Southerner,

    I said, too loudly for his liking that “Scorts a jus’ Geordies wi’ tha heeds kicked in”. By this time he was bricking it. I politely informed him. “Tha sa’ the same in reverse.” Didn’t calm his nerves until the barman said I was right, LOL.

    DaveE.

    PS that was in Edinburgh.

  36. I actually prefaced “Tha sa’ the same in reverse.” with “Divna worry man”.

  37. climatereflections says:
    June 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm
    +++++++++++++++++++
    I see his point. Apologies for misunderstanding.

  38. Scottish Sceptic says:
    June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm
    Can I sign it if I’m Scottish? No, I’m not asking whether I’m literate, or haven’t mistakenly cut off my thumbs attempting to kill the haggis after the hunt on the Moss.

    REPLY: Probably not, this is a US taxpayer issue – Anthony
    ====================================================
    Since American tax dollars are funding overseas research, everyone should be able to sign.

  39. As an Australian citizen, I fully support the concept of publically (Taxpayer funded research and papers) being freely available to the citizens who provided the opportunity and cash, but I do not consider I should add my signature on what should be a citizen’s appeal to their government.

    I would sign a worldwide internet petition to remove paywalls even if only for the taxpayers of the country that provided the funds.

    In developed and democratic countries this should not be needed if Freedom of Information Laws were working correctly as such citizens would be able to get access to publically funded information. That they cannot, indicates that Freedom of Information Laws are not working as they should.

    Thank’s for bringing this to notice once again.

  40. I am signatory number 27,031.

    BTW, last year and this are the worst I can remember for algae in the pool. No matter what I do it’s back in 3 or 4 weeks. Is this perhaps due to climate change?
    ( /sarc — but the pool algae really is bad … )

  41. Scottish Sceptic says:
    June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Can I sign it if I’m Scottish? No, I’m not asking whether I’m literate, or haven’t mistakenly cut off my thumbs attempting to kill the haggis after the hunt on the Moss.
    =============================
    Or burn or fingers lighting the candle to warm your house guests. LOL I have plenty of scottish blood me.

  42. The paywalls are not put up by scientists, who generally would be perfectly happy for all papers to be read free of charge by anyone. It is the publishers who charge. They charge large sums for university libraries to buy journals, and they are unlikely to give that up. If they did who would pay for the publishing? Advertising on every paper??

    As for getting round paywalls at the moment, find someone who is a student or staff member at your local university and ask them to look.

    Or, try using Google Scholar, as many scientists put their own copies of papers where they are visible

    Open source internet journals may in the future be the route to go, but at the moment they suffer from a problem – the standard of published papers is much lower than is desirable (so, yes, they would be a good place to put climate ‘research’…..)

  43. The cost of publication should be a line item in the grant, then the journals can’t (but will anyway) complain about getting ripped off. Last I saw they weren’t really hurting, though they cry crocodile tears every time they renegotiate (ie hold a gun to our heads) a price rise for the university’s subscriptions!

  44. jimmi_the_dalek;
    They charge large sums for university libraries to buy journals, and they are unlikely to give that up. If they did who would pay for the publishing? Advertising on every paper??
    >>>>>>>>

    Which part of publishing on the internet is dirt cheap did you miss? The average research institute is incapable of putting up a web site where research papers are published?

    When paper was the only means to publish and circulate information, then journals made sense. They make as much sense now as people carrying flint around with them to start fires.

    All journals have become is a means for universities to shirk their responsibilities in terms of ensuring that research dollars are put to good use. If you invent something, you can patent it to protect your intellectual property, but you do so at the expense of making exactly what you have done public. No documentation, no patent, and the documentation is public.

    That we require for profit research to be public via the patent process, but theoretical research has to be in “journals” that we have to “pay to read” and we worry about the “expense” of publishing, and oh my goodness, how will researchers in other universities get access to papers if they aren’t there on the local university library shelves because with all that brain power at a university they can’t figure out how to put a pdf up on a website?

    Seriously?

    So costly that they need advertizing dollars to support it?

    Seriously?

  45. Since the climategate communication chill set in, many authors don’t reply to article requests. In some very important ways, climategate has been counterproductive.

    I don’t support demands for computer-code spoonfeeding, but I fully support requests for easy, free access to research articles & pristine data.

  46. The current models are

    a. Paywall, with libraries paying subscription fees for access. This model has two branches

    1. Elsevier and friends which use high visibility flagships to push the cost up and force the Universities, government labs and industrial sites to take massive packages (some unbundling is possible).

    2. Learned societies such as AGU, ACS, etc which have more reasonable prices and to some extent affordable personal subscriptions, 100-300 dollars per journal for a high visibility journal

    b. Open access, where costs are covered by author payment, aka the vanity press.

    In both cases a and b the issue is who can be trusted to maintain the database, essentially forever. Paper has the advantage that you cannot take the server away.

    So, as someone above said, the real issue is who pays for the editorial services, printing, and to maintain the servers. It is worth pointing out that the government pays one way or another as it is. First of all, many journals have page charges which amount to 500-1000 dollars per article for editorial costs and which comes out of grants for the most part (the suggestion that the universities cover this is risible, just go ask your Dean), second library costs form a large part of the indirect cost base that Universities and research organizations bill in grants, so, willy nilly, the government pays one way or another.

    Eli likes the iTunes model, where every access costs maybe 1 or 2 dollars, not 30-50. The publishers would make it up in volume.

    NOTE: Eli Rabett is actually Joshua Halpern of Howard University

  47. “Which part of publishing on the internet is dirt cheap did you miss?”

    I did not miss that part. What part of “internet journals are low quality” did you miss, because the latter is true.

  48. jimmi_the_dalek says:
    June 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm
    “Which part of publishing on the internet is dirt cheap did you miss?”
    I did not miss that part. What part of “internet journals are low quality” did you miss, because the latter is true.
    >>>>>>

    1. I did not suggest internet journals. I suggested that research institutes publish papers on the internet, which is a completely different thing.
    2. I saw a movie a couple of days ago. It was a total piece of garbage. Does that mean all movies are garbage? Does that mean that it isn’t possible to make a good movie?

  49. Do not count on the current administration to do jack squat about this initiative. You can expect many in the inner circle–starting with the President’s Science advisor Holdren– to strangle this baby in the crib. Press Mitt Romney to weigh in and make it a priority once elected.

  50. I fully agree with the petition.

    It seems to me that public access to research need not be an all or nothing thing. Some papers are of largely academic interest (and I use that term in its original sense), use jargon which most people can’t understand (try reading the McKitrick paper on the Dismal Theorem if you’re not an economist) and which have little impact on public policy. Such papers could be left to specialist journals.

    However once research drives, or even influences public policy, then everything, including the data on which the research is based should be in the public domain.

  51. How much resistance to institutions doing their own on-line publishing has to do with the ‘points’ thing whereby some journals have more prestige than others? Might make evaluating the quality of various researchers more difficult if they actually had to read his/her work rather than counting the number of published articles in prestige journals.

  52. In Scotland where I live, the local University has signed an agreement with the academic journal publishers which forbids online access to any digital journal by readers at the Uni. library who are not current students or current members of staff. In spite of my offering to pay an extra subscription, as a retired member of staff and life member of the library I am now effectively cut off from the latest developments in my field and unable to do any further meaningful research. I am very annoyed about it.- what ever made them sign such an agreement in the first place?

  53. Messenger, that is true for all universities. Sometimes tho, (really often), if you just walk in you can get access because they have not put a log in on the library computers. Another “trick” is to enroll in a one credit course, which, depending on the university, can be not so expensive.

    NOTE: Eli Rabett is actually Joshua Halpern of Howard University

  54. Balazs says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    This is not a taxpayer issue as long as you don’t want governments to step in to fund scientific journals. You will need to find a business model for the journals that allows them to print or publish scientific papers online without compensation. Some journals are very costly to publish (e.g. the EGU journals), but in return they publish papers freely on their website. Others (e.g. Elsevier) are more gentle on the researcher in publication fee, but are paywalled.
    _________________________________
    AND WHO PAYS those publication fees? The darn GRANT MONEY that is the US tax payer.

  55. Messenger says:
    June 15, 2012 at 12:23 am

    In Scotland where I live, the local University has signed an agreement with the academic journal publishers which forbids online access to any digital journal by readers at the Uni. library … as a retired member of staff and life member of the library I am now effectively cut off …
    _____________________________________
    Messenger, If you paid for a life membership in the library then you in effect signed a contract that predates this new contract. If you did pay then I would talk to a lawyer since your contract with the library has been modified without your input and agreement.

  56. The libertarian in me isn’t a big fan of this petition.

    I can’t find the clause in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to regulate what private journals charge readers for access to their publications.

    That said, neither can I find the clause that authorizes Congress to apportion money from the Treasury to fund research grants.

  57. These petitions are nice, but usually don’t amount to anything.

    Write your Congressman and Senator — individually, not as a petition. Start a letter writing campaign. Don’t forget faxes, either. Depending upon whom you’re working with, an email may suffice, but a physical paper trail is probably better. (Don’t forget, you’re dealing with the government here.)

    Write letters to the editor to your local newspapers. Offer to write a guest editorial.

    The key is volume. Using social media will help get the message out as well.

  58. I am a scientist who has publshed in about 15 journals and I have reviewed or edited over 1,000 manuscripts for over 40 journals. Scientist will try to publish their research in the most prestigious journals that are likely to accept the study. We all have some studies with really convincing, innovative results to put in the best journals and others that merit publication in less prestigious more specialized journals.

    One journal that I often use (Limnology and Oceanography) allow authors to “unlock” their papers for a modest fee. Most journals depend on subscriptions for libraries and readers for their income. No easy way to get around that. Faculty and students at universities can get relatively quick (a few days) to journal articles that are not in the library through “interlibrary loan.” This costs the universities some money.

    I occasionally get emails asking me to publish in new, online journals. However, none of these in my field have strong credibility and peer review of more estabilished traditional journals.

  59. BillD says:
    June 15, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I am a scientist who has publshed in about 15 journals and I have reviewed or edited over 1,000 manuscripts for over 40 journals….
    ____________________________
    If you were funded by research grants from the government, then the tax payer NOT YOU and NOT the journal OWNS that research just as any research I did for XYZ company owns my research and patent.

    If I paid for it through my taxes then I want access. Why the heck should I have to pay $30 – $50 more for information I already paid for?

    On the other hand perhaps the best solution is to completely cut off the public tax dollar fire hose and start taking a chunk out of that Federal Debt we are conned into thinking we owe.

    How are you at flipping burgers BTW?

  60. That’s kind of interesting. The US Constitution has a clause

    “The Congress shall have power…To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”

    so, certainly congress can allow authors to charge for their work, or if they wish to allow others to do so.

    NOTE: Eli Rabett is actually Joshua Halpern of Howard University

  61. “If you were funded by research grants from the government, then the tax payer NOT YOU and NOT the journal OWNS that research just as any research I did for XYZ company owns my research and patent.”

    The Congress has assigned it’s rights to the grantees, see Bayh Dole Act. They can do that.

    NOTE: Eli Rabett is actually Joshua Halpern of Howard University

  62. The issue of the pay wall obstruction to free access to government funded research is not determined by the government. The research granting agencies such as NSF and DOE expect the researcher to publish their work and acknowledge them as the funding source for the research. The researchers know that they must publish their work in the best appropriate scientific journal to get future grants and to get promoted.
    The publication of the research is governed by copyright laws which prevent the free distribution of the printed material. Many times the research work is documented in published governmental reports that can be purchased from the government at the cost of reproducing the reports. For example NASA publishes much of their funded research in such reports. It is possible to request reprint copies from an authors of papers in scientific journals although they under no obligation to provide them. Libraries at major research institutions purchase the rights to on-line and hard copy scientific journals but if they do not subscribe to a particular journal they still may be able to obtain a copy via interlibrary loans.
    The problem of free access to data and research in climate research is that the truth is being held a hostage to political control in order to throttle competitive ideas from emerging. The two sides are so polarized that each side does not respect the others work enough to enter in to a scientific dialog. Instead of being willing to share information about each others progress towards understanding of the science, to gain access to the others work now requires the use to the FOI laws. Thus true scientific criticism and debate is not possible. For example the Heartland Institute’s conference on climatology was boycotted by scientists that see them selves being attacked by scientists on other side of the climate change issue.
    In this climate of mistrust and disrespect for each other, the blogosphere has become a camping ground for ad hoc reviews of published work presenting critique from one perspective or another. Much of the well thought out work is subject to derision and ad hominem attacks in an effort to decry the author’s credibility, all of which detract from the need to discuss the science like mature adults.
    I have concluded that this petition is a waste of time and could be dangerous to the integrity of climate science. The wrong people to ask to correct the pay wall hurdle for free access to the results of government funded research is the federal government. If they take seriously this request, they will have to take control of the publishing houses that produce the journals and can therefore control who publishes. Of course they are never neutral, especially with respect to climate. It is bad enough now because there is ample evidence that certain professional journals have established their own bias towards the climate, mainly to secure leverage to be selected to publish by authors who have a similar bias. Climate gate and editorials from prominent scientific professional organizations have revealed that there are overt efforts to suppress competing ideas. However there are alternative places to publish maybe not quite a prestigious which are available. If the government became a clearinghouse for publishing they could control the whole framework for science publication in journals, who gets to publish, where, and who does the peer review of the papers. It might be free but it would be worth what you paid for it

  63. davidmhoffer says:
    June 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Tax funder paid research should be published by the tax payer funded institution. There is no need anymore for a “journal”. This is the information age, and hanging onto concepts like “journals” that require a “business model” to function is total nonsense.

    Journals run by government-employed editors, with bureaucrat-selected reviewers? Hm. I’m not sure we want to go there. On top of everything else, their year-to-year funding would be a bouncing political football — and the only football whose bounces you can predict is a heavily spinning one.

    Danger, Will Robinson!

  64. BillD says:
    June 15, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I occasionally get emails asking me to publish in new, online journals. However, none of these in my field have strong credibility and peer review of more estabilished traditional journals.

    So, Mr. Egg, how will that chicken ever hatch if everyone is like you? “Strong credibility”, attracting strong reviewers, and becoming “established” can’t then happen without already having “strong credibility”, etc.

  65. Gail Combs:

    I’ll be happy to send you PDFs of any of my papers that you request. Even if you ask for several papers, although not if you ask for 50. Except for the Limnology and Oceanography papers with unlocked access, most of my papers are in journals and books that are not free. However, you can find them in university libraries and if that is not fast enough for you, I am happy to provide PDFs. The purpose of the research was to advance scientific understanding and that seems to have worked out well. If you have access to jstor.org, you can get copies of most papers that are older than about three years old.

    Brian:

    Sometimes I have published less important papers in new or less prestigious journals. However, when you have spend hard efforts over a few years, you want your publications to have as much impact as they deserve–which means not publishing them in a poorly established or obsure journal. I am happy to have a few articles with 100+ citations in journals where the average article is only cited 2 or 3 times but this is the exception.

  66. The argument for prestige is a straw man. If all publicly-funded research is published in freely available publications they will gain the necessary prestige.

  67. Hmmm. Sounds like a nice idea, but I am wondering if all of the practical difficulties have been uncovered. I’m betting that there are hidden costs that will still need to be covered and I know you guys don’t like to pay more for stuff.

    Let’s see, who is going to pay for web servers, archiving software, organizing the publication process?

    It can’t be all pure profit, so exactly what u
    Is the money being spent on.

    Sorry to rain on your idealistic socialist notions, but these practical questions do have to be answered.

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