Busting the science paywall – support for public access to research swells – you can get involved

NIST-stone-wall

Paywall of Science? The stone test wall at NIST - click for details

As many WUWT readers are aware, I have often complained about the issues surrounding access to research papers, especially when they are accompanied by a broad press release campaign but there is no access given to the scientific paper itself. One of the worst recent examples of this was the Kaufman et al paper, which in the press release from the University of Colorado, contained a serious error, saying “…the cooling trend reversed in the mid-1990s.” when it should have said “the cooling trend reversed in the 20th century.”. Having no access to the science paper connected to the press release,  it led me to write an article refuting the mid 1990’s claim. After many WUWT readers pointed out that the press release might very well be wrong, and at my prodding of the CU press office, the press release error has since been corrected by the University of Colorado, they never caught it themselves. But, the issue remains: why are journalists expected to use press releases but are not given open access to the papers themselves? From my perspective, this is simply wrong. Many others think the same, and a groundswell is developing.

Via Eurekalert: 57 college presidents declare support for public access to publicly funded research in the US

Washington, DC – The Presidents of 57 liberal arts colleges in the U.S., representing 22 states, have declared their support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (S. 1373) in an Open Letter released today. The letter is the first from higher education administrators to be issued in support of the 2009 bill, and further reinforcement that support for the Act exists at the highest levels of the higher education community. The presidents’ letter notes, “Adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act will democratize access to research information funded by tax dollars. It will benefit of education, research, and the general public.”

The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), introduced in June by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX), is a bi-partisan measure to ensure online public access to the published results of research funded through eleven U.S. agencies. The bill would require that journal articles stemming from publicly funded research be made available in an online repository no later than six months after publication.

The full text of the letter reads:

Open letter from liberal arts college presidents supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009

As liberal arts college presidents, we are writing to express our strong support for S. 1373, the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009, which has been introduced into the U.S. Senate by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX). This bill would require federal agencies whose external research budgets exceed $100 million to develop policies that would ensure public access via the Internet to their funded research.

Liberal arts colleges are important components of our nationʼs scientific and scholarly productivity. Studies have shown that our institutions are highly effective in producing graduates who go on to obtain Ph.D. degrees and become productive researchers. Our faculty actively pursue research, much of it with government funding, and often working in partnership with talented undergraduates. Unfortunately, access to research information paid for with tax dollars is severely limited at our institutions – and indeed at most universities. Academic libraries simply cannot afford ready access to most of the research literature that their faculty and students need.

The Federal Research Public Access Act would be a major step forward in ensuring equitable online access to research literature that is paid for by taxpayers. The federal government funds over $60 billion in research annually. Research supported by the National Institutes of Health, which accounts for approximately one-third of federally funded research, produces an estimated 80,000 peer-reviewed journal articles each year.

Given the scope of research literature that would become available online, it is clear that adoption of the bill would have significant benefits for the progress of science and the advancement of knowledge.

S. 1373 would build on a number of established public access policies that have been adopted by government agencies in both the U.S. and abroad.

The National Institutes of Health has implemented a very successful comprehensive public access policy, as required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007. All seven of the Research Councils in the United Kingdom have public access policies as do the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The bill is also consistent with the growing number of institutional open access policies that have been adopted at universities such as Harvard, MIT, and the University of Kansas.

We are supportive of the Federal Research Public Access Act because it has been crafted in a way that provides ample protection for the system of peer review. It allows for a window of up to six months before final peer-reviewed manuscripts resulting from publicly funded research are made openly accessible on the Internet. In addition, it leaves control of the final published version of articles, which is generally used for citation purposes, in the hands of publishers.

Adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act will democratize access to research information funded by tax dollars. It will benefit education, research, and the general public. We urge the higher education community, American taxpayers, and members of Congress to support its passage into law.

[end letter text]

The letter, available at http://www.oberlingroup.org/open-letter-federal-research-public-access-act, was organized through the library directors of the Oberlin Group, a consortium of 80 liberal arts college libraries nationwide.

The Federal Research Public Access Act proposes to build upon the success of the first U.S. requirement for public access to publicly funded research (through the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy) and is supported by: 90 research, advocacy, publishing, and student organizations that represent the Alliance for Taxpayer Access; the Academic Council of the University of California System; NetCoalition.com (representing Amazon.com, Ask.com, Bloomberg, eBay, Google, Yahoo!, and Wikipedia, as well as state and local ISPs); the Rockefeller University Press; OXFAM; and major national and regional research organizations. For details, visit http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/frpaa.

###

GET INVOLVED:

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access calls on organizations and individuals to write in support of the bill through the Web site at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

For more information about the Federal Research Public Access Act, visit http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of advocacy, academic, research, and publishing organizations that supports open public access to the results of federally funded research. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles stemming from taxpayer-funded research become fully accessible and available online at no extra cost to the American public. Details on the ATA may be found at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

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48 thoughts on “Busting the science paywall – support for public access to research swells – you can get involved

  1. Interesting. My journal published research is not open and suddenly economics is a hot profession. Journals survive on subscriptions. With free acess, the journals would require advertising.
    REPLY: The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the premier met journal is rife with ads, full page color, inside and back cover plus many more. Yet we still don’t have immediate access to the articles unless you are a member or pay a fee. So the question is: science or profit? – A

  2. The obvious reason for not allowing access to papers for members of the public is that they have no vested interest in maintaining a ‘strong trade union’ in the presence of funders.
    Now that journals are increasingly online, this is more serious.
    But even then, libraries try and stop members of the public gaining access. I tried a few years ago to gain reading rights at the UK’s National Library in London. The officials required you to state your purpose, as if ‘as a taxpayer, I wish to take advantage of an institution funded by my contributions and what I intend to do with that is none of your business’ were not an acceptable answer.
    Scientists know they are lying on climate change, so the fewer people who have access to the papers, let alone the raw data, the better.
    But as the roller coaster of funding is still resembling an oil well at peak operational efficiency, they would be mad to rock the boat, wouldn’t they?
    The question is: who funds their research, their salaries and their status in society?
    The answer: WE DO.
    Once you understand that, I think the power relationship is pretty clear, isn’t it??

  3. “One of the worst recnet examples”
    Think that should be “recent” and not recnet…
    🙂
    REPLY: Typo fixed thanks – A

  4. As Taphonomic has indicated on wuwt previously, the United States Department of Energy has been a major funder of Phil Jones’ work developing the HADCRUT global temperature data set, and the DOE has VERY SPECIFIC rules regarding data sharing. The following paragraphs come from http://www.science.doe.gov/ober/CCRD/per.html
    Program Data Policy
    The program considers all data collected using program funds, all results of any analysis or synthesis of information using program funds, and all model algorithms and codes developed with program funding to be “program data”. Open sharing of all program data among researchers (and with the interested public) is critical to advancing the program’s mission.
    Specific terms of the program’s data sharing policy are: (1) following publication of research results, a copy of underlying data and a clear description of the method(s) of data analysis must be provided to any requester in a timely way; (2) following publication of modeling methods or results, a copy of model code, parameter values, and/or any input dataset(s) must be provided to any requester in a timely way; and (3) recognition of program data sources, either through co-authorship or acknowledgments within publications and presentations, is required.
    The program assumes that costs for sharing data are nominal and are built into each grant application or field work proposal. In cases where costs of sharing are not nominal, the burden of costs will be assumed by the requester. The Program Manager should be informed whenever a requester is expected to pay for the costs of obtaining program data, whenever a data request is thought to be unreasonable, and whenever requested program data is undelivered.
    Funding of projects by the program is contingent on adherence to this data sharing policy. [emphasis added]
    I brought this to Phil Jones’ attention in an e-mail and his response was “I work in a University. In the UK I am not considered a public servant.”
    That was the best that he could do.
    An American taxpayer asked him, politely, about his refusal to comply with American regulations regarding data sharing, and he said that he is not “considered a public servant.”
    If I were Senator Inhofe, or on his staff, I would pursue this matter vigorously, as there is very little wiggle room here, and Jones is clearly out of bounds.

  5. A worthy effort, to be sure, but I don’t see how the example given would have been helped. The PR goes out on publication, not 6 months later, yes?
    I think it is a legitimate concern, however, to ask if the journals can survive a model like this from a financial perspective. For all their faults, they are still a useful construct at this point in history, and somebody has to pay the freight to keep them in business.

  6. “This bill would require federal agencies whose external research budgets exceed $100 million to develop policies that would ensure public access via the Internet to their funded research.”
    Seems to me this is a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.

  7. Perhaps George Bernard Shaw was on to something when he said, ‘all professions are conspiracies against the public’ – or at least they tend that way.

  8. Oh well I guess i’m beginning to understand that these days, peer reviewed is an interchangeable term for censorship

  9. See, this is the kind of stuff that parties should be able to come together on. Cornyn is a conservative Republican and Lieberman a liberal on everything but foreign policy who was a Democrat until his own party shunned him. How’s this for bipartisan?

  10. Open access to science would be great, but what about other forms of publication? Journalism is an important pillar of democratic society, and certainly contributes to it’s progress and fabric. There’s plenty of content from journalism sources that is also behind a pay-wall, and I doubt they would be very open to free access to their content. There are services that archive the data, and charge for access to those databases. This is probably just as important to have opened up.
    Another point, I find it ironic, the content of this post, and the advertisement on this weblog for Energy and Environment subscriptions.

  11. I wonder of this kind of openness might result in a backlash against public funding of research. I know that the more publicly funded artwork I see, the more disgruntled I feel about the National Endowment for the Arts.

  12. Plain & simple:
    Paywalls are unethical.

    “The bill would require that journal articles stemming from publicly funded research be made available in an online repository no later than six months after publication.”
    6 months is too long.

  13. Well I think you have to peel this onion layer by layer.
    I (the taxpayer) pay my taxes to them (the gummint) for the purpose (Article I, Section 8, Clause 1) of paying the debts of the USA, and providing for the common defense, and general welfare of the United States. (not of every tom, Dick, and Harry). That is all they are authorised to collect taxes for; so this funding of climate catastrophism research grants; must somehow relate to the common defense of the USA.
    The gummint in turn gives some of MY tax money to them (the grant guzzling alarmists) to DO THE RESEARCH; and the results of that research should by right belong to me and my fellow taxpayers; and it is THEM the grant endowed researchers who thereofre have the duty and obligation to provide me with the results of the research I am paying for.
    Frankly, I could give a hoot, whether they want to publish their results in some form or other in a prestigious journal, to use for bait in getting the gummint (and ME) to give them more grant money.
    So yes I do understand the problem of the Journal publishers, in fuinancing their journal publications; and every one of the journals I get is jam packed full of advertising which helps in that purpose; including even advertisements from institutions seeking candidates for jobs at their institution in order to justify their requests for even more grant money.
    So it seems to me, that any RESEARCHER(S)

  14. Tamara, there’s nothing wrong with public backlash against waste and stupidity. Some of the publicly funded “art” I’ve seen has no redeeming characteristics… none. While I have no desire to see it all defunded, there has to be some sort of responsible oversight. It’s not possible to “define” to an artist whether or not their work is “acceptable”, it certainly is an option to defund someone after their second million dollar “black bear in a coal mine after the lights are shut off” painting.
    Meanwhile, too many people have lost sight of the entire concept of “Science”, specifically that “Science” is not about hoarding knowledge. The whole point is to add to humanity’s collective knowledge, and the arrogance of certain scientists in thinking nobody but the members of their little exclusive club should have access to data or knowledge is astounding.
    As is a recurring theme here, I want to KNOW what data is being used in an attempt to systematically dismantle my entire civilization. ANY science being used for public policy, or being funded by public funds, should be 100% publicly accessible.
    I also have no problem in keeping the details of weapons development “secret”, but military uses probably exist for almost everything we learn. I can use my computer to browse Facebook or WUWT, and the military could use the exact same computer to set up nuclear weapon delivery or calculate requirements for building a particular yield of fusion bomb.
    Anyway, I’m rambling. Publicly funded non-military science that is not publicly accessable is a travesty, and the practise should be stopped immediately. Science and data used to establish public policy should be freely available. What kind of arrogance does it take to think that nobody could understand it? Are they afraid that members of the public will find sufficient flaw in a conclusion? (Rhetorical question, we all know the answer)

  15. Dang keyboard …. who are receiving gummint taxpayer funded grant moneys, should themselves be required to provide the results of their researchers to their benefactors (me); not the journals.
    And they can do that by either buying a bundle of copies of the journal paper from the journal for delivery to enquirers, or else putting up the research results in some other form for the purpose of providing it to the public.
    In any case; it should be required that any such taxpayer funded research that becomes publicised through press release, by the researchers or their establishment; should automatically become public property.
    It is the publicity hounds at the institutions or the researchers themselves, who create a public demand for the research results; not the journals who publish their papers.
    I get SCIENCE as an AAAS member, and also some publications of The Optical Society of America; whcih is part of the American Institute of Physics.

  16. I feel fortunate that my field of research is in astronomy. Recent articles in the field are typically available at Cornell’s arXiv (http://arxiv.org) as preprints; articles published over the past century are typically accessible via NASA ADS (Harvard, http://adswww.harvard.edu); datasets are typically published on CDS, (Strasbourg, France, http://cdsweb.u-strasbg.fr).
    These services make it possible for independent researchers to produce peer-review quality work and should serve as an example for all other fields in our digital age.

  17. This seems to be a perfect example of the subject of this thread
    Alarmist reports have been appearing in newspapers of which this is a typical example;
    Link1
    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1097377/Greenland,-Antarctica-ice-melt-worsening
    It appears this came from;
    link 2
    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2009/09/
    (Scroll down a little)
    which in turn came from this:
    Link 3
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7262/full/nature08355.html
    This extract;
    “This study is the latest in a series to use data from ice cores to fathom out what was going on in Greenland’s climatic past. Between 9,000 and 6,000 years ago, Earth went through an unusually warm period. But puzzlingly, unlike data from many other spots in the Northern Hemisphere, measurements of isotopes in ice cores drilled from the Greenland ice sheet haven’t reflected that temperature change. So models of the ice sheet’s behaviour based on these data have suggested that the height of the ice sheet has remained quite stable during the past 12,000 years.
    Now, new data from ice cores drilled in six different places on and around the ice sheet reveal that this unusually warm period affected the GIS too, and that in response to these temperatures — which were 2–3 °C hotter than our current temperature — it lost 150 metres in height at its centre and shrank by 200 kilometres at the edges.”
    which then ends at a paywall.
    Now either link 1 leads to a completely different story to that described in 2 and 3, or it is the same story-spun considerably-or they relate to two very similar reports that have come out virtually together one of which seems to be saying something rather different to the first.
    If anyone is a subscriber to Nature perhaps they can tell us which is the real story.
    tonyb

  18. It is not so much the papers themselves but the data on which they are based. Reading of the difficulty that your colleagues at Climate Audit have had getting at the raw data with which to verify some of the papers which purport to support the theory that increased CO2 is leading to climate warming, I am amazed that any scientific journal of repute ever agreed to publish those papers.

  19. WRT the argument about the economic viability of journals. Who needs journals anyway? What does a journal do? really? The only thing I see
    that a journal does is 1.) impose page limits that often leaded to overly terse writing. 2.) filter out some dreck 3.) provide scientists with a pedigree.
    It’s time for journals to die.

  20. As an independent researcher I would add my voice – and it is a broader issue than data – it also concerns the science literature. I looked through over 300 papers in the course of my own climate review (Chill: a reassessment of global warming) – and had I paid $15-30 each for downloads, I could not have carried on the work. Fortunately, many authors will respond to email requests for an electronic copy – this is especially true of American scientists, who, perhaps surprisingly considering the heated political debate – are courteous and helpful.
    Of, course, the major journals have to guard their finances – otherwise they would cease to exist. Science makes older papers available free to those who register with the AAAS, and that example should be followed. Often the only option is to spend days in a good research library – but again, that can be expensive in travel, accommodation and photocopying!
    I managed – but with long delays and frustration, and only because of the willing cooperation of busy scientists – for which I am very grateful.

  21. CodeTech,
    I heartily agree. If only the “public” could give feedback that would have a direct influence on the selection process. Oh, the idyllic vistas that opens up… 🙂

  22. Six months is not unreasonable, but why stop at agencies spending over $100 million? I don’t know whether there are any disbursing less, but that’s a huge amount of money, and one could easily envision wily bureaucrats creating little sub-agencies to get around the rule.
    And what about open access to the underlying data of studies?
    /Mr Lynn

  23. Paywalls aren’t the problem, refusal to disgorge data is.
    There are certainly enough funds around to cough up the $35 that I generally have to put out when I want access to a paper. I should think that any organization funding research into real climate systems would be willing to invest in the truth. At the very least we could take up a collection – only half in jest.
    Stonewalling the data is not the same as asking for an access fee. Don’t make the mistake of equating access to the data, with free (no charge) access to the data. Electronic publishing should lower the cost for journals, but they still won’t be free. Editors will still be necessary, so will layout and font control. None of that is free and most of the firms publishing these journals are for profit firms.

  24. How about an online micropayment system–pay as you go–so occasional readers can have access without a big cover charge?

  25. PS: There are several Public Library of Science journals that publish online and have attracted good contributors and lots of status in their fields. They should be the model for all science journals. Peer review should be supplemented and blended with online commentary from pre-publication reviewers and then from ordinary readers, including critiques of the peers. It would be messier and in some respects worse than what we have now, but the bottom line would be a net benefit, in that “science cartels” like those in climate science would have less influence and less chance to lead science and society astray.
    As for funding, that can be finessed somehow.

  26. This is a typical email I send to various political organizations, Congress, etc.
    Currently the government funds via grants, and other means, research projects regarding the climate and climate change. Most often the results from that research result in a generic press release (propaganda). However, access to published papers resulting from that research are not accessible by the public unless they are willing to pay a fee. It is unfair for the public to pay for the research and then not have access to the data and findings.
    I propose legislation requiring that anyone receiving government funding for research be required as a condition of that funding to make the details of the resultant study freely available to the public. Further, any research study being considered as a basis for any legislation and policy must have been openly accessible and freely accessible by the public inclusive of methodology, data sets used, code employed, and data discounted. If those conditions are not complied with in full then that research is not able to be publicly funded and / or used as a guide for policy or legislation.
    Most often those involved will claim ‘intellectual property’ regarding their research. I don’t have a problem with that IF they fund the research themselves. If they use public funds then the property rights belong to the public.
    Sincere Regards,
    Lee Kington

  27. The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the premier met journal is rife with ads, full page color, inside and back cover plus many more. Yet we still don’t have immediate access to the articles unless you are a member or pay a fee. So the question is: science or profit? – A

    The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) have each been publishing two magazines/journals for quite some time.
    Each society has a very technical publication, SEG Geophysics and AAPG Bulletin… I haven’t been able to comprehend any of the articles in Geophysics for a long time (Dif Eq is too distant of a memory) and I opted to stop receiving the hard-copy version. The AAPG Bulletin is more readable… But I still rarely read it. These journals have very few advertisements. I seriously doubt that free public Internet access to the articles would diminish membership in the societies and no one subscribes to these journals unless they are members of the societies.
    They each also have more readable magazines with lots of advertisements… The AAPG Explorer and the SEG Leading Edge. The technical articles are less technical and more colorful. Again, I doubt that AAPG/SEG membership would plummet if the lay-public had free access to the articles and research papers.
    The Lieberman/Cornyn bill will make it a lot easier for the public to evaluate the science rather than relying on the mainstream media’s misreporting of it… And it will make it a lot easier for scientists to see what’s going on in other disciplines.

  28. “I work in a University. In the UK I am not considered a public servant.”
    He’s also not a U.S. citizen. He should get his grant money from the UK.
    It seems now that the test of whether or not a US citizen can get info about a study paid for by the US has to do with the nationality of the grantees.

  29. Who needs journals? Quite right – lets do science by blogging, the fast-track to reality! Actually, why do we need to train scientists in the first place? Seems to me that we have a better grip on what is going on than all those ivory-towerists. After 20 yrs I no longer feel inadequate – go for it!!!

  30. The bill would require that journal articles stemming from publicly funded research be made available in an online repository no later than six months after publication.

    Problem is that six months down the road may be too late; the paper has already been accepted at press-release level!
    DaveE.

  31. Thank you Mr. Kingston.
    I hope I have your permission to use your sample letter to send to my congressional
    members. It was very succinct and simple. Most of them may even understand it!
    Steve

  32. In days gone by, papers were submited for peer review and only after scrutiny were they published.
    These days we have a massive outpouring of taxpayer funded research to numerous journals that may or may not apply vigorous standards.
    This would not be a problem if such papers were not used to shape public policy.
    However abstracts are now used by media outlets to indicate some kind of definitive evidence of sound research regarding any agenda that suites the tabloids political wheelbarrow. All too often after the headline has long been digested by the public these papers prove to be nefarious promotions of the researchers own scientific prejudices.
    Even if we discount circular endorsement by the reviewers own self interest in reinforcing work they may be doing themselves, the workload is none the less beyond any sound assessment by reviewers.
    Hidding publicly funded work behind pay walls should automatically dismissed it as tabloid science and not worthy of consideration. This should not lead to a drop off of readership as documented research would encourage students to do a more comprehensive study of the subject at hand.
    We cannot expect reviewers to make in-depth studies and maybe put their names to the outcome without some kind of compensation.

  33. Research Journals are most often part of a professional association, usually a non-profit. So what do they do with the money they collect? Association members have a really good time in Cancun talking about their favorite drink while taking a bit of time here and there to talk about their science projects. Afterall, can’t be showing a profit.
    So here is my take. Professional associations should be for profit. And let the market determine who wins members. If they so wish, due the hell out of the members and go to Cancun every year. Sell products. Whatever. That has nothing to do with publicly funded research. If a scientist wants to publish a publicly funded research result, it should be done on the web as a department of whatever governmental department funded the research, even if all they got was a dime. If they want to turn down the government offer of public money, then by all means, put it in your professional association’s journal and hide it behind a paywall.
    Let the market win.

  34. I would like to coin a term and take all the credit, of course.
    “Carbonphobia” – An irrational fear that carbon or carbon dioxide is harming the natural environment despite the fact that life itself would be impossible, without that same carbon dioxide.
    Copywrite Sept 23, 2009 by WestHoustonGeo (which is just as valid a DBA as “Rip Torn” – or better, I think.);-)

  35. WestHoustonGeo (19:46:47) :
    I would like to coin a term and take all the credit, of course.
    “Carbonphobia” – An irrational fear that carbon or carbon dioxide is harming the natural environment despite the fact that life itself would be impossible, without that same carbon dioxide.
    Copywrite Sept 23, 2009 by WestHoustonGeo (which is just as valid a DBA as “Rip Torn” – or better, I think.);-)

    ‘Carbophobia’ would be easier to say.
    ‘Copywrite’ would get crumpled up and thrown in the trash. What you want is ‘copyright’.
    /Mr Lynn

  36. steven mosher (11:59:04) :
    The scientists in Hungary could not disagree with you more.
    The dissemination of knowledge, findings, data etc. is what guarantees it’s survival. Many plates, prints, papers held in singular places have proven not to have survived the decades and centuries.

  37. Rhys Jaggar (09:25:20) :
    But even then, libraries try and stop members of the public gaining access. I tried a few years ago to gain reading rights at the UK’s National Library in London. The officials required you to state your purpose, as if ‘as a taxpayer, I wish to take advantage of an institution funded by my contributions and what I intend to do with that is none of your business’ were not an acceptable answer.
    I could not agree more. It’s as if you bought a car, and you were forced to explain where you would drive it, and how fast, or maybe bought MS Office and were forced to explain what you wanted to write.
    Our money, our goods, to do with as we wish.
    Except computers? Dell insist on being told what you intend using a computer you buy from them for! (At least Dell in Oz.) I once selected “genetic research” in a ‘It has bugger all to do with you’ frame of mind, and my purchase was held up while they interrogated me about it! I have no idea why they do this, or even if the can, by law.

  38. But, the issue remains: why are journalists expected to use press releases but are not given open access to the papers themselves?
    Of course they have access, all they have to do is get off their butts and go to the library!

  39. “”” Tamara (10:25:58) :
    I wonder of this kind of openness might result in a backlash against public funding of research. I know that the more publicly funded artwork I see, the more disgruntled I feel about the National Endowment for the Arts. “””
    Tamara, I see nothing wrong with public funding of either science or the arts.
    But taxpayer funding of either of those things is a different matter.
    The NEA and PBS have simply become political front groups; and whichever politics they are pushing is irrelevent; it is still a misuse of taxpayer funds; as is taxpayer funding of things like stem cell research (any kind).
    If there was any likelihood of medical benefits from such research, the drug and bio-tech companies would be funding it.
    If these companies want to take taxpayer money to fund research; then the taxpayers should be the beneficiaries of the results of that research; yet too often, Universities, and supposedly independent companies end up filing patents on the results of their research. Don’t have a problem with the patent filing; but those who paid the tab for the research should have the rights to those patents.
    The company that I work for which is now a public company, pays me for my work, and also pays the costs of publishing my results when appropriate in peer reviewed publications like those put out by the US Patent Office.; and in that case the benefit of those patents if any goes to those that paid for the work.
    And the US patent office will only process my work through their system under the conditiona that any and all will have access to it and be instructed as to how to use it. Of course they are prohibited from making commercial use of it without paying royalties, or making other mutual arrangem,ents with those who paid for the research; namely my company’s shareholders.
    Institutions make use of the publicity and prestige that comes with the output of their taxpayer funded research to campaign for more of the same; the taxpayers ought to at least have the results available to them.

  40. “To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight, appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers, but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers. ”
    -Adam Smith-

  41. Here’s a real beat funding proposal from a blog that sneers at “people like C.A. bloggers who are blind to settled science”. This was actually printed in seriousness. I shall not dignify it by naming it.
    Keep it handy for buzz words:
    “Barry, you should quit ignoring Nuclear Fusion, not the International Megabucks Boondoggle of ITER, but the potential Black Swans, like Robert Bussard’s Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion, Plasma Focus Fusion, Tri-Alpha Energy’s Aneutronic Colliding Beam Fusion, Spherical Plasma Fusion, General Fusion’s shockwave Fusion. Also Blacklight Power (which I admit maybe bogus) & Jovion Zero Point Energy and Cold Fusion is also showing promise. There is also a possibility for anti-matter catalyzed fusion, one method is using positron storage, which Positronics is developing. Logic dictates, that funding should be prioritized to the ratio of (potential economic & environmental benefit / cost of development) X probability of success. By that criteria many of these exotic technologies deserve funding, certainly in the 100’s of million dollar range, unlike the few millions that they struggle with. Many of these technologies have the potential to blow away all other forms of energy production – precipating a true social & economic revolution across the entire planet. Certainly we should not gamble our resources on any one technology, but all technologies that have potential to be major green energy sources should be investigated until their potential is thoroughly understood. While ridiculous scams with no hope of acheiving anything but sucking taxpayers pockets dry are being pumped with 100’s of billions in funding. This includes Hydrogen, Clean Coal, Agrofuels, Solar & Wind Energy.”

  42. Pamela Gray (17:26:38) :
    Re public and Government funding.
    Maybe it helps to keep at the back of the mind that the initial purpose was, and the present main function of Government should be, to do those things which are more efficiently done by the collective than by the individual. Like national defence, international treaties, diplomacy and the like. Governments have zero place in support of the arts. The greatest flowering of the arts in periods of history have been through private patronage at times when there was a large difference between rich and poor.
    With future energy, the best function of Government would be to butt out and let the free market mechanism work. No more stupid subsidies for uneconomic proposals. No more vacuous taxes. No cave-ins to the votes of special interest groups. No more decisions made by people with no experience in the subject.
    Here is Australia, our couple of hundred federal politicians are mainly union leaders, school teachers, former political aides, lawyers and an ex diplomatic service Prime Minister. We have one engineer and one accoutant and one Ph.D., IIRC.

  43. My sister is a scientist at EPA and related a story of going to a town hall meeting where local citizens were up in arms about PCBs in their water supply. Someone had gotten the raw data and pointed to several samples in the data set that showed very elevated levels of PCBs. They were quite upset. She pointed out to them that all the PCB laden samples in the data set were test slugs used to ensure that the testing equipment was working properly but were not samples of the drinking water from that area. An excellent example of how analysis of raw data by those not qualified to do so can lead to false conclusions.
    I’m not arguing against unfettered access to publicly funded data. Just that its analysis and interpretation should be conducted by those with the knowledge and expertise necessary to derive reliable results. Such analysis should be subject to review to avoid alarmist and errant conclusions as outlined above.

  44. “Barry, you should quit ignoring Nuclear Fusion, not the International Megabucks Boondoggle of ITER, but the potential Black Swans, like … Cold Fusion…. Logic dictates, that funding should be prioritized to the ratio of (potential economic & environmental benefit / cost of development) X probability of success. By that criteria many of these exotic technologies deserve funding,”
    I agree. Longshots deserve funding–especially when they’re our only hope.

  45. The data and reports we paid for should be available to us.
    I think the restraint should be on the person that got the grant.
    Anything submitted for publication, and all the data behind it,
    should be submitted to the online archive, before any submission
    for publication, or any press release or other publicity.
    It stays locked in the archive until 6 months, or whatever, after
    the publication or press release. Failure to comply is a crime,
    with fines or jail time, and no grants for several years.


  46. Phil. (08:22:53) :

    Of course they have access, all they have to do is get off their butts and go to the library!

    Information superhighway NOT!

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