Trump weighs executive order on scientific research

From EE News

President Donald Trump and White House officials are working on an executive order that would boost public access to federally funded research. Tia Dufour/White House/Flickr

President Donald Trump and White House officials are working on an executive order that would boost public access to federally funded research. Tia Dufour/White House/Flickr

Kelsey Brugger and Sean Reilly, E&E News reporters Greenwire: Tuesday, December 17, 2019

White House officials are working on an executive order that would boost public access to federally funded research, prompting publishers to panic about the future of their business models, according to people familiar with the plan.

Ostensibly, the order would follow longtime bipartisan interest in improving public access to research that is paid for by taxpayers.

It is expected to require that publicly funded science be obtainable for free immediately, building on an Obama initiative, multiple sources said.

A memo adopted in 2013 mandated that the results of such research be made available within one year of publication.

Though there is generally broad support for public access, publishing groups like the Association of American Publishers worry that a tougher order would upend their subscription-based business model.

Once it caught wind of the effort, AAP began drafting a sharply worded letter of concern to the White House, multiple sources said. The letter could be sent as early as tomorrow.

About a dozen sources told E&E News that they were aware the White House has been considering an executive order but the details remain murky. A senior administration official declined to comment on “internal deliberative processes that may or may not be happening.”

“President Trump’s Administration continues to be focused on scientific discovery and economic expansion,” the official added via email.

Michael Stebbins, who helped draft the Obama-era memo, generally expressed support for public access and noted that it could spur innovation. “But the devil is definitely in the details,” he said.

Many academic journals are funded by subscription fees collected in the first year of publication. The Trump mandate could force publishers to shift their model so authors pay hefty article processing charges, or APCs.

“Here’s the challenge: A world in which there is immediate open access will result in serious pain to a scientific society or small publisher who relies on subscription revenue,” Stebbins added. “That revenue will have to be made up somehow for them to survive.”

Some scientific experts, who are generally skeptical of the Trump team, are worried that the initiative parallels what they call the administration’s incessant attack on science and, by extension, provides favors to industry.

“What problem are we trying to solve?” asked Andrew Rosenberg, an advocate with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Others noted that the order would give international competitors like China access to American research, which has been a concern of the Trump administration.

It’s also unusual, sources noted, that a Republican administration would adopt policies that could seriously affect business models.

Full article here.

174 thoughts on “Trump weighs executive order on scientific research

  1. Heaven forfend that the Chosen Elites should have to archive their “data” and suffer the indignity of their “work’s” being subjected to analysis!

    What are the Thompsons to do? How dare any mere mortal question the sainted Phil Jones?

    • Who cares who pays as long as peer-review is carried out transparently and all data is archived within, say, 6 months of publication?

      Perhaps the penalty for not archiving the data within 6 months should be the automatic withdrawal of the paper?

      • The data is available when the paper is submitted. The Data should be made available for the reviewers to include in their peer review and then be released with the published with the paper. Simple as that. There is no need for a waiting period. That leads to people “forgetting” or “losing the data”. Convenient excuses for not showing your work.

  2. We didn’t ask the government to bail out buggy whip makers. There is no reason to do the same with academic publishers.

    I have found them to be rather difficult to deal with (in the four decades I have had to do so), likely because of their monopoly status (which never seems to be good for customer service).

    If they were smart, given the unique requirements (equations, etc.) of that line of publishing, one would think they could recreate their business model. Instead, the whine.

    • “We didn’t ask the government to bail out buggy whip makers.”
      This is not the government bailing out whip makers. It is the government requiring that they give away their whips for free.

      • Nick, it requires that they put their “science” to review, as much of it is questionable. Adjusted data set will be exposed, rather then hiden for critique

        • As with the case of Phil Jones, someone might find something wrong with the “science”.

          Scientific method? How DARE you!

        • “rather then hiden for critique”
          Nothing is hidden. Publishers publish. You may have to pay to read.

          In fact, I rarely have difficulty finding any paper I want for free via google scholar. If that fails, researchgate will find a way.

          • So the new initiative will simply improve productivity and transparency as the free whips will be available immediately to all who ask?

          • I agree. It’s usually easy to find a public copy on the internet. But it does seem wrong for research that is paid for by the people to be charged for, and I have paid for several papers that I couldn’t find for free

          • The authors submit, the publishers simply post PDF’s. Why does it cost sometimes hundreds of dollars for a single person to download and read a paper their tax dollars funded ?

          • > “You may have to pay to read”

            The information has already been paid for through tax. Why should access to this be paid for twice ?

            Typical Stokes … anything to keep the doubts and uncertainities away from the public gaze.

          • Nick,

            did you realize you are advocating that TAXPAYERS have to pay twice or more times before they can read TAXPAYER funded and published research?

            PHD holder in mathematics can’t count……

          • So what you are saying is that the buggy whips are already available for free – which defeats your own argument rather nicely

          • “I rarely have difficulty finding any paper I want for free”

            First Nick whines that magazines are being required to give away studies they didn’t produce for free.

            Now Nick admits that most studies can be found free of charge.

            In other words, Nick knows that his earlier whines are wrong and completely irrelevant.
            Nick, why don’t you just admit that you don’t have a shred of integrity or self respect and the only reason you are so desperate is because your paycheck is being threatened.

          • “Now Nick admits that most studies can be found free of charge.”
            This whole thread is a whine about having to pay to read papers. That is what is undermined by the fact that you can find them for free if you look.

          • “In fact, I rarely have difficulty finding any paper I want for free via google scholar. If that fails, researchgate will find a way.”

            Hey, Nick, can you find a paper giving an explanation for why NASA turned the US surface temperature chart into a fraudulent Hockey Stick chart?

            I don’t think NASA has even published anything about these adjustments to the surface temperature record. Maybe you can find something with your superior search skills.

            Trump’s new Executive Order may make it easier to force NASA Climate to show their work when it comes to bastardizing the temperature records of the world. A good start would be their explanation for taking actual temperature readings of the US surface temperature chart, that show the 1930’s to be just as warm as today and putting those figures into their computer and producing a Hockey Stick chart that tells a completely different story about the US climate. One story says CO2 is not an issue and one story, the false NASA Climate story, says CO2 is a destructive force.

            Here’s what I’m talking about:

            US Tmax Raw chart compared to bastardized US Tmax chart:



            The first chart shows the recorded temperatures and the second chart shows how NASA Climate has changed the chart into a fraudulent “hotter and hotter” Hockey Stick chart which now shows today’s temperatures to be hotter than anytime in recorded history. Just the effect they were trying to produce. A lying effect.

            Maybe Senator Inhofe can use President Trump’s Executive Order to force NASA Climate to come clean on their adjustments to the temperature record. They won’t do it any other way. They have to be forced to comply. Doesn’t that make you a little suspicious of their motives when they refuse to explain what they have done? My taxpayer money paid for those adjustments. I want to know why they were necessary and why every adjustment seems to make things warmer. Of course, we know why this is, we just want to see it on paper so we can prosecute these CAGW charlatans.

          • It really is fascinating how Nick dances from one bad argument to another, without ever admitting that his prior positions have been utterly destroyed.

            It’s not enough that many, or even most papers can be found for free. The demand is that all papers that have been paid for by the government must be available for free.

          • “I don’t think NASA has even published anything about these adjustments to the surface temperature record.”
            Making papers free won’t help if you can’t get to grips with who does what. NASA does not adjust the US surface temperature record.

          • So you are stealing the publisher’s income to get your “free” paper. Unless it’s posted as free to copy on the publisher’s website somebody had to be copying it and distributing it without paying for the copies.

            I don’t like the idea of government interference, but a system where the government pays the publishing cost(we don’t want the government to be reviewing the papers!) would keep the publishing work with the publishers, the money to pay for it(for the public access) would come from taxes. The various publishers would compete primarily on snagging the most important papers, rather than the most money.

      • No it is not! It is requiring the tax payer funded buggy whips to be available without further cost to the taxpayer who has already paid for it to be made, and included a nice living for the makers of said buggy whips.



        • The government chooses to communicate its research via independent businesses. They charge subscriptions. The government can choose to publish its research directly, if it wants. But if it wants businesses to do it, they have to have an income steam.

          • “The government” doesn’t pay for anything. They take tax dollars from us and spend it for us, and we should see the results of that spending.

            I know it was just a movie, but “The Martian” even made that point. NASA wouldn’t target the site at first, because they expected to see Mark’s body, and since NASA was a government agency, those pictures would be public domain and would have to be shown.

            I don’t know how Australia’s constitution is written, but in the US, the PEOPLE are sovereign, not the government. As president Lincoln put it in the Gettysburg Address, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

            The officeholders forget that every so often, and we have to remind them who’s actually in charge.

          • Really?
            Just where are these government forms for submitting research to private publishers?

            Government contracting publishing fees with publishers is done by specific customer request, not top down government funding. The same contracting process also purchases advertisement time on radio and TV stations; all directly requested and justified by government departments.

            The same groups could easily publish in the Federal Register.
            Federal Register publications are eternal. Errors, waffle words, bad research, dubious conclusions, upside down data and graphs etc. are major embarrassments to all involved.

            Perhaps that would be the correct method. All government funded research must be published in the Federal Register, program code, run results, data, mathematics used, full documentation of the research necessary for replication, etc. must be archived on Federal servers.

            Problem solved. Publishers? Small publishers? Start publishing honest science that audiences desire, not entrapped researchers.
            It will also end dubious ‘Press Release’ science announcements.

            Plus, it has the advantage of requiring full FOIA compliance. Researchers will love it! Well, the real ones anyway.

          • The only skill Nick demonstrates these days is a skill in changing the subject.

            Yes, the government can change how it publishes research, and that is all that is going on here.

          • That’s fine. All government funded research should be published online, available free on a government website, with the obvious exception for classified research. The researchers themselves could submit the document to the GPO in a PDF format (instead of sending it to a publisher).

            So the commercial publishers spend no money. They aren’t in the loop. There would no longer be a peer review, but from what I’ve seen, it hasn’t been working that well, anyway.

            The government publishes enormous amounts of data and analysis online already, particularly economic data. I see little difference.

            Any objection?

          • Nick Stokes – December 21, 2019 at 4:01 pm

            The government chooses to communicate its research via independent businesses. They charge subscriptions. The government can choose to publish its research directly, if it wants. But if it wants businesses to do it, they have to have an income steam.

            Give us a break, …… Nick, ….. it is NOT government research, ….. it is government (taxpayer) funded (free gratis Grants) research.

            Given the fact that colleges and universities get a big “chunk” of the Grant monies then they should be paying for the publishing of said. Internet publishing on their website wouldn’t cost them a damn thing, the author(s)could do it themselves.

          • The answer is easy. If it is government/taxpayer funded then the authors should include the publishing cost in their grant request. Everybody wins.

          • Salute!
            Jim has a good point.

            If publishing data and investigation/study reports must be remunerated, then that $$$ needs to be in the grant proposal or response to a government ( read “taxpayer”) request for proposal and the final contract award.

            There are legal ways to copyright proprietary software code and other aspects, but if taxpayers are “paying” then taxpayers should be able to see things like raw data and such.

            My military contract work showed “prime contractors” like Boeing, Lockheed, etc. keeping much close to their vest, yet we taxpayers had already paid for it and “secrecy” was not in the original contract. No problems with really neat and unique aspects of a weapon system that may earn $$$ doen the road, but put that into the contract!

            Gums sends…

        • Right on Joe! Nick can keep (or sell) all the buggy whips he pays for – those buggy whips paid for with government funds should be immediately available to those who paid — ie US!

        • Nick Stokes the troller knows what you all mean and are saying regarding buggy whips and taxpayer funded research. He knows he’s wrong. However, it puts a smile on his face everytime someone responds to his “publisher’s need to get paid” comment. Don’t respond and help keep the frown on his face.

      • The American taxpayer paid for that research, then is made to pay for it again via a middleman (a publisher)? And the middle man gets put out of business? Why was he in the business in the first place? What value does he add to the product?

        There was mentioned in the article that there are fears the Chinese could get access to the research. They wouldn’t pay a few bucks to get it from a publisher anyway? You really think a publisher cares who he is selling the information to? Really?

      • Nick, this potential order is relevant only to federal-funded research, not to any private funding. So, tax dollars pay for some research and the public gets to see it. What’s not to like?

        • The research is funded. But we’re talking about the activity of selecting and communicating it to the public. You may think that stage is unnecessary. If so, it can be simply by-passed. What is not going to work is requiring businesses to do it without funding.

          • The businesses can simply not publish government work if they have to do it for free.
            Written publications are going the way of buggy whips also.

          • “the activity of selecting and communicating it to the public” – yes it’s so much better if the selection and communication processes can be confined to a few dependable publishers. How else would those inconvenient papers get declined and sensationalist headlines get out?

          • I don’t know if Nick is this clueless, or if he just hopes that the rest of us are.

            Nobody is requiring businesses to do anything. What they are requiring is for the researchers who are funded by the government to make their reports available at no charge.

          • What exactly do you know about “businesses”, Nick ?

            Let me tell you that those of us in “business” learn to adapt to changing government policy and economic conditions or we go hungry along with our staff.

            Seems that this would be difficult for you and your cadres to accept using your initiative.

      • Surely most of the scientists have already been paid out of the public purse. Then why can’t they be expected to give away their scientific results for free?

          • Right. Government funded and offered for free. If the publishers want to publish ‘for free’, fine. If not, a .pdf posted on a general .gov site is just fine.

          • And, indeed, scientists often have to pay either for color plates or sometimes for the entire article. But, it usually paid for out of grant money or a university set-aside paid for out of tuition.

          • “They can do that now. What is stopping them?”
            The current system is stopping them. Scientists only get recognition for research published in journals. Once the govt forces publication for free, that system for recognition will have to be modified, if journals refuse to publish govt research

          • Nothing is stopping them, and as you point out many of them do this.
            This regulation requires them to do that, where as before, it was optional.

          • Nicks just mad that his favorite controllers of information will no longer be able to control the information and the same time these propagandist will lose another source of revinue. Just like when Trump shut down the EPA and DOJ extortion system that Obama set up to feed his favorite leftist organizations.

      • If it’s publicly funded research, it should be freely accessible to the tax payers. If it kills current business models, then those organizations need to adapt their models, or abandon them and try something else. No company is healthy if it is not keeping an eye on the horizon and preparing for what’s coming ahead.

      • No, it requires the scientists to provide their papers AT NO ADDITIONAL COST to the public that paid for them.

        If you want to stick with the whip analogy: The go.v placed and order for whips and paid for them in advance. Then the manufacturer demands another payment before releasing the order.

        • “it requires the scientists to provide their papers AT NO ADDITIONAL COST”
          It doesn’t. Scientists already do that. It mandates that the publishing firms that edit and publish that work do so for no return. If they do it at all, which they probably won’t.

          • Some do, some don’t.
            The demand is that all scientists who’s work is funded by the government start doing so.

          • Nick, you sure to talk definitively about an Executive Order where the “the details remain murky”. About all the article said about the contents of the EO was that “It is expected to require that publicly funded science be obtainable for free immediately, building on an Obama initiative”. It says nothing about *how* that is to be accomplished. It says nothing about mandating publishing firms do anything. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. We won’t know till the EO is released.

      • “government requiring that they give away their whips for free”

        No Nick, it’s just what’s happening to other areas of publishing in the age of the Internet. They are going to have to change their business models to adjust to the new realities, just as newspapers and magazines are having to do.

        Much of the research is funded by government grants anyway. The grants can pay for the publishing fees that some academic publishing outlets are already charging.

        • Nick’s analogy fails for many reasons.

          A better analogy is would be that the government pays for buggy whips, and then the buggy whip makers choose to use a private distributor to distribute those whips.
          The distributor quite rightly feels that they should charge for their service.

          The problem is that when somebody goes to the factory to pick up a couple of these free buggy whips, they are told that the only way to get one is to pay the distributor.

      • OK then. The public via the government paid for the research to be done. Then the rent seeking publishers think each member of the public should have to pay something like $35 to read the research that she or he already paid to have done.

        Nick, yours has to be the straw man argument of the day.

        Jordan Peterson explains what’s going on. At around 7:40 in this video he points out that 80% of humanities papers are not cited even once, but the university libraries have to buy the journals. It’s a scam folks and it’s a waste of our tax dollars.

        The rent seekers don’t add much value to the process. It would be good to see another publishing model that serves the public and academia better. I’m quite happy with the idea of putting them out of business.

      • It is only for FEDERALLY-funded research. And researchers have to give their info to journals for free – or even pay for publication.

        So you’re not on the side of researchers…or the public…but on the side of publishers. Spin away.

      • Nick,
        Really bad analogy attempt… Take heed:
        “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

      • And the Buggy Whip makers didn’t use taxpayer dollars to produce their product. So easy fix for them to keep their papers locked behind a paywall there. don’t ya think?…

      • As the taxpayer is paying for the research, it sounds reasonable to require the results be made available.

        Are you a descendant of the Stokes family that includes Sir George Gabriel Stokes?

      • If my tax money paid for it in the first place, then it’s not theirs to withhold.

        Freely ye have received, freely give.

      • Scientists are the “whip-makers,” not the journals.

        Journals do not pay researchers for their content. But journals make money from the content researchers supply for free.

        Many, if not most, journals also charge researchers a page-fee to publish.

        And on top of that, journals charge a very substantial subscription charge.

        The open-access model is now available for all journals. Journals can recompense by charging all researchers a publication fee, rather than libraries and readers a subscription charge.

        • Pat
          I think that a better analogy would be that the publishers supply shipping boxes for the buggy whips.

      • “Nick Stokes December 21, 2019 at 2:44 pm
        “We didn’t ask the government to bail out buggy whip makers.”
        This is not the government bailing out whip makers. It is the government requiring that they give away their whips for free.”

        A false claim posed as a red herring strawman.
        Nothing to do with giving away unpaid for products free!
        The government is only requiring research that is paid for by taxes to be available immediately.

        Don’t like the deal!?
        Stop requesting government finds.

      • Nick, are you actually this desperate?

        1) It’s not their product. They didn’t produce the studies, they just make money publishing the studies.
        2) Nobody is asking them to give their product away for free. They can continue to sell their journals and charge however much they like.

        As you well know, the only thing being demanded is that others can access the studies without having to pay for it again.

        Nick, why do you always have to argue so dishonestly?

        • Salute!

          Exactly right. MarkW.

          The “requirement” to be published, as well as the “pal-reviewed” claim is killing the scientific method and much research. If such research is paid for by me, then I demand the data unless the researcher demands I pay my $$$ for such data and other aspects of the project.

          Gums sends…

      • The whips were paid for by taxpayers. The scientists in a closed group circles the wagons and reduces public access to the “ published “ results. Who gets the benefit under that model? Slower sharing of data and slower progress using the tax payer subsidized work.

      • Nick

        “It is the government requiring that they give away their whips for free.”

        Disagreed. They are asked to give away other people’s buggy whips for a price that is not ramped up by collaborative monopolies. At present they are gate keepers, and apparently not very good ones.

        Review by journals is appalling in so many cases, the validity of claims should be first doubted and the data checked by interested parties. On the subject of climate science there is systemic failure to approach the require standard of validity and balance. It is instead a political and academic game show.

        As an occasional reviewer of papers I see the pathetic reviews submitted by others who don’t do the work, don’t provide insights and guidance, and who try to block the publication of differing opinion maliciously.

        Any decently run journal will still be a treasure and purchased. The same applies to a worthy newspaper.

        This new rule will only apply to government-funded research and the public has a right to demand to see what it is paying for. The government should not be dominating all research.

      • No, it’s a requirement to stop their election interference.

        To stop their interference in pretty much all areas of human life.

        They should be prosecuted as a mafia. I assert that they are a lot more dangerous than the traditional mafia. Mexico is effectively a failed state (some say a rogue state) because of gangs, but what about scientism gangs? Europe is a failed state because of the mafia of “science”.

      • Damn, the US government owns that research on behalf of taxpayers … they can decide if should be on-sold, not the freeloading academic publishers.

      • no, they were paid BY govt grants so therefore their results should be Immediately available TO the people who paid for it
        private journals using paywalls to block acess to all bar the well off who can join/pay crazy prices to even READ something let alone be able toprint a copy should be stopped cold asap
        yes its a business..but its one we can well do without.

      • Nick, you sure use a different type of logic than the rest of us. If the government is paying for the research, then the results should be given back to the government or the citizens. It is not very expensive to put up an online PDF of the paper and the accompanying data. If every empty-headed Instagram influencer can figure out how to publish and make money, then I’m sure some of these super-intelligent academics may be able to figure it out.

        • “It is not very expensive to put up an online PDF of the paper and the accompanying data.”
          And I’m sure they would be happy to do so. The problem is that the government, which distributes research funding, demands to see publications in reputable journals.

      • “It is expected to require that publicly funded science be obtainable for free immediately, building on an Obama initiative, multiple sources said.”

        It appears to only cover the “prepaid” buggy whips.

      • Nick you wrote: ” This is not the government bailing out whip makers. It is the government requiring that they give away their whips for free.”
        Wait a minute. Isn’t the research publicly funded? Should not you have said, “It’s the government requiring publicly purchased research to be available to the —public?”

      • Hi Nick,
        compliments of the season.
        “…This is not the government bailing out whip makers. It is the government requiring that they give away their whips for free.”
        But only whips that the government paid the whip makers to produce in the first place.

    • The scientists have already been paid for their work – why should the journals then be allowed to make money for work paid for by the state?

        • There is a US Government Printing Office, you know.

          And why should it be published at all, for profit, unless that profit is returned directly to the Agency that funded the research in the first place?

        • LOL – they point is THEY don’t need to publish – the govt can easily put the research online. Of course if the journals don’t publish – they can’t control the peer reviews – and they can’t control the rebuttals. That would be a big step forward for climate science

          • mr bliss
            You commented, “… if the journals don’t publish – they can’t control the peer reviews – and they can’t control the rebuttals.”

            What is commonly called “peer review” is really a gate-keeping function to control what gets published. Much of the motive is to maintain their reputation so that they can justify expensive subscriptions. The real peer review takes place after publication when the community of specialists have an opportunity to to read and comment on the results.

            However, that gate keeping function is a two-edged sword. It can insure that only high quality research gets published, which seems to be how it works in most journals that don’t publish climatology/oceanography research. However, there is the potential for abuse, which seems to happen far too often in those fields with political policy ramifications, such as ‘climastrology.’

        • We aren’t asking the journals to publish it for free, we are asking the authors and researchers to show their work. We want access to the data and results that we paid for. The authors can do so quite easily. They already write the reports and papers to demonstrate that the grant money actually did something. These can be placed on their website, and indexed. The data ought to be accessible and archived in a manner that the rest of us can study it. If the data are not in reasonable shape, how do we know that the results are actually based on the data?

  3. Hard to tell the possible impact, since there is so much variability. Most get free reviews as part of the traditional peer-review process. Open access, online-only journals seem to survive on their charges to the authors, but I wonder about the longevity of access if they cease to exist. More traditional journals get all of that, plus confiscatory subscription rates from various institutions. Those seem to have the most to lose. As a government scientist I always make sure my work is freely available ASAP, which is usually when the online version comes out, regardless.

    • Many publishers allow authors the right to publish pre-print copies of their publications online. It doesn’t take much work to find these free copies.

      It’s in authors’ best interests to make their work readily available. That makes it more likely for others to read their work and hopefully reference their papers in future research. Citation counts are quite important for career advancement and people’s standing in their own academic fields.

  4. They have made their careers as gate keepers who stand between the people, and research that the people have already paid for.

    It’s always tough to start a new career, but they need to start doing so.

  5. Much of what scientists do is designed to keep people who do not have university jobs from having access to knowledge. I am in favour of this. As for publishers, well given how much fees have sky rocketed by thousands of times, far far higher than any inflation from my early days as a scientist, I can only conclude the publishers are gouging us. They gouge us because we allow it and since we are paying for the gouging with government money, who cares? This gouging was a constant feature of my days as a scientist. I once found a watch repair kit that was exactly the same at $30 as a very expensive laboratory kit for $365 but I had to sneak it into my lab because it did not come from an approved supplier. So I am also in favour of this because I detest gouging.

  6. Does anyone seriously think putting science behind a paywall is going to stop China from reading it?

  7. Public money.
    Public accountability.
    In everything except clearly defined areas of national security.
    If commercially valuable information might be at risk there could be a short moratorium on public access.

    Scientific publishers inhabit a murky world where non-publication of valuable null results and replication studies is the norm without accountability and money changes hands for spurious reasons. If a new model evolves better than the old, the world of research publication can only improve.

  8. The more possible it is for a lone individual to obtain funding for research, the better it is, of course. And the taxpayer who puts the cash on the table must of course decide whether the research looks promising enough to be worth paying for. Why should established scientists , most of whom act and behave in herds according to consensus-driven convictions, sit there and decide?
    Great idea.

  9. We’ve been here before.
    We can let publishers largely continue their business model by applying a time limit on exclusivity.
    It seems entirely reasonable that publicly funded research must be made publicly free to all comers after, say, 12 months or even two years. You won’t find many people on both sides who dispute this.

    It might also allow for consistent, enforceable standards about making data freely available. I recall Steve McIntyre as saying something like his main goal was just proper archiving of data. That shouldn’t be controversial amongst real scientists.

    • Not only not controversial, but an outrage that taxpayer-funded research was not automatically required to be archived and freely available for review.

      The scientific method requires that results be repeatable.

    • Why would we give them even a monopoly of a day? What do they actually add to the research that immediately releasing to the public doesn’t?

  10. That’s got to hurt! And if journals don’t bother publishing because there is no money in it – wouldn’t it mean that the nice, cosy peer-review system would have to be carried out elsewhere?

  11. There are multiple levels of “value added” that go into an investigation and publication of results: 1) Scientist’s ideas, training, effort, insight; 2) Effort and perseverance of a research team; 3) Sharing of ideas and third party monitoring, verification of methods and results; 4) Production and editing of a report; 5) Sharing with the public via a) hard copy publishing, and b) electronically. Value of the work can be academic, a salable product, or both. Funding can be public, private, or both.

    Now combine all these factors and decide who gets whose $$$ and when, who gets the bragging rights, who gets the intellectual property rights, etc. Bottom line, not a simple problem.

    Now add in the Internet as a disruptive technology and it becomes more fun. What if a consortium of ivy league universities all decide that all research efforts be published on Kindle?

    • “What if a consortium of ivy league universities all decide that all research efforts be published on Kindle?”

      Then this consortium is politely reminded by the body who funds the vast bulk of their endeavors that they must adhere to the standards set by that body.

      That body is, of course, the body that represents the taxpayers. The person who pays the piper calls the tune. No significant University, bar none, will risk being cut off from federal funding. Especially over a measure that they cannot sensibly disagree with in public.

      All the “value added” you refer to rapidly diminishes over time. That’s why I suggested as much as two years grace in my comment above. All academic and Intellectual Property issues should be resolved, or rendered irrelevant, within a reasonably short timescale. All that remains is probably just the vanity of academics, which is not what they were paid for by taxpayers.

  12. So if you were say, a climate researcher who really believed you had just unearthed new information that the current climate crisis responders and humanity in general absolutely should have forthwith, wouldn’t you be really p1ssed off if your revelations were paywalled for 12 months?

    What if you missed out on this years’s Nobel because your research masterpiece was not released by languid publishers?

    How dare they!

    • Perhaps the brightest people can be made to give good ideas to the dumbest in order that everyone gets their fair share.

    • It is more likely that as a climate scientist you are concerned that the scary it-is-worsterested-than-we-thought press-release might be scuppered if people have access to your actual junk paper.

      • In other words “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.” Now where have I heard that before, I wonder?

  13. Haven’t people been able to get free pre-prints form the authors for decades?? You would just call/write the author and they would send you a nice, glossy print of their paper. Just allow the authors to post a pdf of their article on their website. The journal gets publication bragging rights. They didn’t do any of the research. They don’t pay for their reviewers. If someone wants to pay to read the journal’s synopsis of some work, or reviews of other areas, so be it. I find it ridiculous that I have to pay $30 for an article that is 10 years old or more. Isn’t this basically the same argument that recording artists used to make with regards to online music? That places like Napster, that offered music for free, would crush the music industry and all of the poor artists and their producers would be penniless. Did this happen?

    Are artists still complaining that companies like apple and pandora can offer their products online? Can anyone tell me why a similar format for offering research publications would not work?

    • I cannot speak for the circumstances in the US but in the UK it was not a serious problem, paying for published papers, until fairly recently. The system (if you worked in a business) was that you paid for a book of vouchers from the British Library and sent off a voucher for a photocopy of the required paper.
      Effectively we paid about £2-3 for each paper. Then copyright rules changed and it is now at least 10 times that amount. I am not sure who, apart from the publishers, benefitted from that change. Certainly not the authors of papers, certainly not the workers for small institutions that find it harder to keep up with recent developments in their field, and not the taxpayers , if the work published is publicly funded.
      It was also the case that one could get copies of patents from the US Patent Office free of charge. It always seemed a remarkably altruistic gesture from the US, for which it has probably not received due credit. I hope that has not changed .

  14. If the taxpayer is the one paying, why wouldn’t they be allowed to see what they are paying for? Especially if the result are suspect and are used against the taxpayer.

    • When I was a recipient of government funded research grants it was a requirement to submit regular reports to the agency concerned which included data and methods and copies of any publications. In certain cases the research was co-funded by industry and there was a concern to prevent access to the data by rival overseas companies. We also used to provide preprints of our papers free of charge to anyone who asked, nowadays the preprints are usually available on the researchers webpage, again free of charge.

  15. “Others noted that the order would give international competitors like China access to American research, which has been a concern of the Trump administration.”

    Apparently the Chinese are too stupid to subscribe to academic journals or pirate them.

    “It’s also unusual, sources noted, that a Republican administration would adopt policies that could seriously affect business models.”

    What a ridiculous comment. Every government policy, whether proposed by Republicans or Democrats, affects some business models in some manner.

  16. I applaud any move to demand that any taxpayer funded research be available immediately to the public. The worse abuse of the current system is the researchers provide sensational press releases while hiding the research behind a paywall, and avoiding any criticisms. The current system allows advocates ate scientists to pervert science into an organ of propaganda!

  17. What the publishers should be adding as value is peer review.
    They can still have a subscription model. People will pay for it to get a comprehensive analysis and dissection of the published papers.

    Of course, that means that the peer reviews will have to be worth the cost, not just rubber-stamp pal reviews.

    • The only value journals add to peer review of climate research is to restrict or deny criticism of papers that are good for the cause. There are documented cases on WUWT detailing the struggles authors have had

    • In cases where only a handful of researchers are considered qualified by the publisher (who may make that decision based on criteria that are not related to competence) to review a subject, then that group controls what research is published. The process is easily corruptable.

  18. When scientific research is used to implement hard laws impacting everyone on the planet then, yes, I would say said research should be available to everyone before those laws are enforced.

  19. It’s no different than the general media model. The scientific publishers would have to change to an agglomeration and curation model. In addition providing a commentary. That’s where their value would be.

  20. The coming of the Internet demonstrated that once Joe Public had easy access to information from learned sources, said sources were shewn to be in some instances not as diligent as they had most folk thinking they were. In fact many were exposed as being downright sloppy.

    Just imagine the shudder running through the ranks of those accepting the public dime to produce work that they assumed would receive limited exposure to those pesky know alls that abound outside the precincts of academia.

    Easy to see why President Trump has so many folk bent out of shape. 🙂

  21. The business model is rotten anyway. They turn down good research that doesnt have “sex appeal” and publish garbage that does have it. Also editors can be strong-armed by consensus ‘scientists’ and be boycotted or forced out of a job. Then there is pal review. I hope reforms go farther than just giving taxpayers what they paid for.

    The current system has bred hundreds of thousands of new journals and a few investigations have concluded that a large majority of articles are badly researched, inadequately analyzed and have and a high percentage are even ‘froddy’.

    John Cooks analysis of 13,000 (!) articles in climate science published over one decade(!) jiggered 3% into 97% consensus on warming doom. That was not the most striking aspect! I was blown away by the fact that clisci was publishing 1300 papers a year! With an academic year perhaps 150 days, that’s nine (9) climate science papers a day. Yeah, I can see that’s a business model from heaven.

    • “Gary Pearse December 21, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      John Cooks analysis of 13,000 (!) articles in climate science published over one decade(!) jiggered 3% into 97% consensus on warming doom.”

      You will find the results of that “analysis” at reference 1 at this link;

      NASA used to be in to doing great science, now not so much.

    • The current system has bred hundreds of thousands of new journals…

      With the ability to create official-looking web pages and emails, predatory publishers have gone global. Today, there are about 8,000 active “journals,” publishing roughly 400,000 research articles a year, according to researchers who’ve published a new investigation in Nature.Sep 6, 2017

      Gary, I’ve told you a hundred thousand times not to exaggerate….
      : > )

  22. ““What problem are we trying to solve?” asked Andrew Rosenberg, an advocate with the Union of Concerned Scientists.”

    Secret science. Where journals won’t require the scientists to release all data, methods, code, etc, for federally funded research. Even though the journals have rules that say those things ARE supposed to be available. People like Steve McIntyre shouldn’t have to beg for data and methods for research paid for by the public.

  23. Corrupt organized crime outfits like Chrissy McEntee’s American Geophysical Union will become … extinct! [wild applause and shouts of cheer]. Ha ha


  24. The government should, perhaps, not be the funding source for research that is used for a business model.

  25. Taxpayer paid research results and the methods used should be part of the public domain. The nominal fees are no burden for corporations or foreign agencies.
    They are a nuisance to US nationals. The Chinese have already populated most basic science research groups with their nationals so the information is most likely already in Chinese hands.

  26. The truly crazy part of this issue is that US government reports etc are not free to the public. Taxpayers do double pay for the information. They pay the civil servants at the EPA, DOD, etc and copies of reports are available for a fee.

    • The US federal government publishes a wealth of information free online. There are data bases you can query and papers you can read. Brandon Rhymes published the EDGAR link in a comment above. The CDC has a data base for causes of death that I routinely use to prove idiots wrong (

    • If something is available online for free, I don’t mind asking the recipient to pay copying costs if they request a hard copy. No profit, just cover the actual costs.

  27. ” Others noted that the order would give international competitors like China access to American research, which has been a concern of the Trump administration. ”

    The Chinese already have access through their subscriptions to the corrupt publishers.

    Now these corrupt publishers will have to earn an honest buck and ensure that data is published … they rarely enforced the Obama edict to publish within a year so no boys and girls your dose of schadenfreude.

  28. “Others noted that the order would give international competitors like China access to American research, which has been a concern of the Trump administration.”

    Apparently these others firmly believe that the Chinese haven’t yet discovered Sci-hub.

    ““What problem are we trying to solve?” asked Andrew Rosenberg, an advocate with the Union of Concerned Scientists.”

    The usual suspects weigh in. Could this have something to do with the fact that climat-science papers, in contrast to virtually all other disciplines, are rarely made available on sites like researchgate and

    One could almost think that they are afraid that somone might try to find errors….

  29. Is President Trump letting some sunlight shine on taxpayers funded research data under the Data Quality Act? Good for him. Now Mr. President, put some teeth in it also.

  30. “ It’s also unusual, sources noted, that a Republican administration would adopt policies that could seriously affect business models.”

    If your business model is acting as a gatekeeper who demands a toll before taxpayers are allowed to see taxpayer-funded research, your business serves no useful purpose. In economic parlance, you are a “rent seeker”.

    You’re a parasite and deserve to fail.

  31. An issue seems not to be addressed: current open access journals usually charge the Authors for publication, ok; but of course it is the authors’ institutions who pay for that. Therefore, as long as I see it, both “traditional” publishers and the “open access” ones are competing for the same source of revenues: the academic institutions and laboratories, that is (in many countries) public funds. Is the trend towards open publication just a replacement of lobbies?
    In fact universities pay twice: not only by subscriptions or publication charges, but they also provide the pool of referees working to the editors for “free”.
    Concerning the availability to the general public, I do not deny that it is good in principle, but who apart from specialized teams is able to check the relevance and correctness of scientific literature?

  32. Wouldn’t it be more useful for the Feds to require the universities who receive the research funding to create agencies to perform minimum QA reviews of the research prior to publication? There is a “reproducibility crisis” after all. It doesn’t do any good to provide better access to Fed funded research if the research is junk.

    Since the Feds are the primary providers of research funding, the establishment of minimum QA requirements, like passing a reproducebility test prior to publication, would go a long way to improve what has become a very flawed academic research system.

    • Sounds like you are trying to re-invent the peer review process.

      The best QA process is open access. Let anyone who wants to review your work.

  33. What? Strings attached to Federal Grant money? This is ‘quid pro quo’! Impeach!!

    In all seriousness, it is good to see the UCS expose their true “concerns.” Every scientist knows in their heart that scientific progress should be for everybody … especially if the money that funded it (that is fed, clothed and housed the families of the scientists) came from the hard working American populace. This is because they all know that their work was only possible because their predecessors made their scientific progress available to all as well.

  34. Just open the paywalls to articles more than 1 year old describing work supported by federal grants.

  35. So, is Hans Blix available to the Association of American Publishers to begin drafting a sharply worded letter of concern ?

  36. I hope this executive order, if it goes through, is retroactive for at least 30 years, so as to force Michael Mann and his ilk to disclose their data to the public and not be able to hide behind the courts.

    • Ditto!

      Anything the prevents that smug prick from hiding his garbage “work” is a good thing!

      Oh, and P.S. Anthony, I made an attempt at posting a comment from an i-Phone the other day and got a “forbidden”/403 error. A new kind of attack on your site?

  37. Hang on. What?

    Trump is considering “building on an OBAMA initiative”?!?!?

    Why aren’t people in MAGA hats setting themselves on fire? Where are the frogs raining from the sky? Why hasn’t Sean Hannity turned into a pillar of salt?

    • Because not everything Obama did was wrong/bad (Just like not everything Trump does is right/good). In this case it was an initiative that, as the article points out followed on from “longtime bipartisan interest in improving public access to research that is paid for by taxpayers”. bipartisan. It’s something both sides can actually agree on (though I imagine a lot of Dems that were formally for it might now be against it just because Trump is weighing in on it, and had this come out a couple of weeks ago, would have warranted it’s own impeachment article).

      • Hang on. I forgot comment-thread dialog was a thing. I didn’t prepare. So… compliments?

        1) Thanks for a civil reply. I forgot what one looked like.

        2) I also admire what looks to me like a thought-based series of connected sentences. Bonus: Nowhere does your line of reasoning suddenly descend into inexplicable rage; or deny observable aspects of our shared reality.

        3) A viewpoint that is not your own is treated as deserving of existence.

        4) You seem to be aware that people who hold those viewpoints are not (necessarily) the personification of Evil.

        I don’t come to the comments often enough to know for sure if you are always such a good example of the form (IMHO) comment threads should try to emulate. (That is if the goal is to actually exchange ideas and not just compete to be the loudest echo in the chamber). But adult conversations where people with different lives disagree with me in any way that lets me test out ideas? Learn something? Figure out a step that gets us an inch closer to our shared goal, even if we have nothing else in common? (Did that EVER happen, or did I just get the Disney version of human history?) Those are the conversations worth having. What do well-adjusted people get out of YES men? It’s baffling. It’s the death of learning. It’s boring. You are quickly old and irrelevant. Needy.

        Anyway, I’m gonna assume rational is your normal mode, say thanks, and quit while I’m wherever I am.

        Wait. I forgot: You didn’t mention it, but this is the head-slapper for me: Almost always, if I comment, I put a fair amount of thought into it. It’s usually constructive criticism. So I usually put in my two cents, don my firefighter PPE, and toast marshmallows in the flames that follow.

        So, of course, I get a reply that gives my comment way more thought than it deserves the ONE time I feel lazy and hop on an opportunity to make cheap jokes (that are also fair) about the undeniable logical inconsistency that a portion of the population displays when the subject is Trump vs. when it is He Who Shall Not Be Named. Not Voldemort. The Black guy. Born in Kenya? Has horns? Sacrifices Bald Eagles when he’s praying for gun owners to get herpes? You know…

        Seriously though… since you know what’s what on this blog FAR more than I do, and its possible you might still be reading this, I have to ask a question I don’t know how to get answered.

        Does there already exist–or has there ever been a suggestion to create– some type of forum on this site where people can occasionally talk shop and not be connected to any particular post? Say, where moderation of any sort isn’t required, making it effort-neutral. Because the rate of survival in a hurt feeling disaster is actually close to 100%; and loud-mouth dum-dums who will never be useful can be ignored (or smooched in the posterior swimsuit area… personal choice).

        Is that a dumb idea? Is there a suggestion box? Thanks again, John Endicott, if you read this far.

        Happy Festivus!

      • Thanks. I honestly didn’t know that was what was being referred to. I just saw something that said Trump was doing anything other than “having a negative reaction to” something Obama was connected with.

        And I lost my mind. The thing itself didn’t matter.

        I come here to stay current on anything science, or science-adjacent, that advances the cause of ending the global delusion of CAGW. I try to tune out all the other crap.

        Occasionally it’s fun to throw in a reminder that there are skeptics of ALL description, and CAGW alarmists who AREN’t the Prince of Darkness* .

        I know it doesn’t do any good. But… Okay, I’m not enough of a military scholar to know the actual term for it; but are you familiar with the tactic of doing a couple of small, sacrificial attacks on the enemy, just to get a sense of his capabilities before you go all in?

        Whatever that’s called, that’s always at least a small aspect of posting here. Except it’s my own “side” rather than an enemy, technically.

        Anyway, take it easy, niceguy!

        * The only common alternate name for the Devil that doesn’t actually appear in scripture. Who knew?

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