I remember Timothy Gowers calling for a boycott of Elsevier back in 2012. It's 6 years since then and Elsevier is still alive. Influential researchers still submit their work to Elsevier! It took less time (a few weeks?) for everyone to boycott Digg!
It's surprising how the Internet has been used to distribute cat videos, advertisements, time-draining, and attention-draining content to a sickening degree but it is still underutilized to distribute good content like research papers such that the Internet becomes the primary and de facto media for such content.
Edit: The argument in more detail: https://medium.com/flockademic/to-fix-scholarly-publishing-d...
Imagine HN where you are only allowed to publish your own content and random users would be selected to evaluate your work.
We should try this!
It says "If researchers are evaluated on the quality of their research instead of the journal it was published in, that would remove their need to pay whatever amount of public money a publisher asks of them just to obtain career credentials."
But at least in my field, most of high impact-f journals don't charge any money for publishing there. So the researchers don't really use any significant money on the publishing part.
I don't know how exactly they get their profit (other than the obvious subscription fee they charged the school), but I don't think researcher themselves are paying that (unless of course, by "researchers" you mean universities as the organizations, but then again "find ways to promote your academic work that are independent of the journal it’s published in" will not be relevant since you still need to pay to read other people's publications).
The need to pay "whatever amount of public money a publisher asks" exists because the important researchers choose to publish in those journals instead of other journals where their articles would be freely available.
If researchers are evaluated on the quality of their research instead of the journal it was published in, then one could simply require that they publish somewhere where it's freely available, but it's a bit of a problem since they need to publish in exactly those journals, which happen to be very expensive.
However, in that case, too, the money is not the researcher's. That said, they are the ones that spend it.
In the case of subscription journals, the argument is similar, except that in this case, it's academic libraries who will have to pay whatever amount of public money a publisher asks of them just to be able to access that research. If the researcher could obtain their credentials elsewhere, they would be able to make their work available somewhere where the libraries and the general public would not have to pay to access it.
The question is whether that pays off in the end. That is, do Elsevier and others' papers have the bar high enough that it's absolutely not worth browsing and reading papers outside the commercial publication, or if it's just laziness and convenience acting up by placing trust in these academic publishers. The academics should be aware of the money and power game involved in commercial publishing, so they should be in a position to judge whether there is value to be trusted in it.
See e.g. https://theconversation.com/why-i-disagree-with-nobel-laurea...
So publishing on your own site on arxiv isn't sufficient on it's own, some curation and gatekeeping is essential for academic publishing to work. However, this is not a service that Elsevier et al provides for their payments, this service is provided by uncompensated reviewers from the community.
On the other hand, the ratings are used by the evaluators of science e.g. funding agencies which won't (and can't) evaluate results directly but need some trusted proxy to separate random ramblings from acceptable science, and the prestigeous journals fulfil that function.
Just uploading to the arxiv will not guarantee that your paper has been reviewed.
We could even argue that a purely meritocratic system of publishing will accelerate good quality research as opposed to a reputation based system.
Funding and career advance should be ortogonal to knowledge distribution.
Your Einstein example actually contradicts your point about reputation.
The mistake is using hindsight to judge that paper's quality. Instead, we have to imagine looking at that SR paper as if we lived in 1905 and didn't know if the 26-year-old patent clerk was a crackpot or a genius.
Einstein sent his manuscript to an academic publisher where Max Planck was one of the editors. This is important because MP already had the reputation in physics so his recognition of Einstein's papers' value was taken seriously. The journal itself also had a reputation which was reinforced by the reputation of its editors.
In 1905, Einstein's papers didn't stand on their own. Its dissemination and acceptance was helped along by Max Plank's "stamp of approval".
To quote Yudkowsky for a possible solution to this metaproblem "That’s why we have ... there doesn’t seem to be a word in your language for the timed-collective-action-threshold-conditional-commitment… hold on, this cultural translator isn’t making any sense. “Kickstarter”? You have the key concept, but you use it mainly for making video games?" 
> An assurance contract, also known as a provision point mechanism, or crowdaction, is a game theoretic mechanism and a financial technology that facilitates the voluntary creation of public goods and club goods in the face of collective action problems such as the free rider problem.
> Dominant assurance contracts, created by Alex Tabarrok, involve an extra component, an entrepreneur who profits when the quorum is reached and pays the signors extra if it is not. If the quorum is not formed, the signors do not pay their share and indeed actively profit from having participated since they keep the money the entrepreneur paid them.
There could be some penalty that researchers agree to pay if they renege on the agreement, and that penalty could be contractual. The non-profit could collect donations for marketing, and enforce the transition through legal action (if needed). Any proceeds could go to funding the next research field's crowdaction.
I am still amazed that the record industry managed to shut down what was likely to be the next iteration of internet: P2P exchanges. Now we have a centralized youtube solving in a bad way what eDonkey+VLC could have solved for two decades already.
Hey, that can still happen..
Country | Number of IPv4 addresses Per Person
US | 4.91196
China | 0.24591
But I don't know about the state of things of the multi-network clients which are popular china.
No, IPv6 is currently available in only few places, such as universities. Where it is available, torrenting is indeed prevalent, and the speed is good (typically saturating our 100Mbps ethernet link).
Recently there has been a renewed push from the Chinese government to widen the deployment of IPv6, but the effect remains to be seen.
Wikipedia still begs yearly for hosting whereas if people voluntered their bandwidth and space there would be no problem hosting it.
I remember eDonkey fondly. The variety of things you can get with torrents pale in comparison of what was open to us: people would just share "their" files with a huge variety of different content. Nowadays you only get a few thousands of the most popular US movies.
I like the idea of P2P social network, but honestly I think that there's no problem to solve in the first place. While distribution of huge video files and music files is a problem and torrents solve it, that's why they are popular. It's not easy to host terabytes of video with thousands of downloads. But it's trivially solved with torrents.
The root of the problem is that to make an academic career you have to publish is one of those journals. When you apply for a new position, the first thing they look for is how many papers you have published in high profile journals.
If scientific research had started in this century, I am pretty sure no researcher would have ever thought of publishing research papers in a centralized journal where the journal gets to make so much money for a contribution that is not commensurate. Instead, they would have chosen an online platform that is funded and managed by the universities and research centers participating in this platform.
What you are saying is equivalent to stating a tautology: Elsevier is still important for researchers' careers because Elsevier is still important for researchers' careers.
The deeper question I ask is: Why is Elsevier or such centralized journals still important for researchers' careers?
Why can't the academia move to a model where only the impact of the paper matter where the impact is measured by some open source metrics like citations, number of stars, etc. I am not suggesting these exact same metrics. These are only examples. But it should be possible. For example, in the software world, GNU, Linux, Node.js, Git, etc. did not become important by publishing in a centralized journal but by publishing on open repositories, some amount of marketing, and by the virtue of being very useful. What prevents existing researchers from moving to such a model? If enough influential people move to this model, Elsevier and others automatically become unimportant.
It appears you've entirely missed the point. There is no tautology. There is only a vicious circle of being forced to publish in established journals to have a chance of having or even starting a career in research, and the fact that most if not all established journals are controlled by companies such as Elsevier. Therefore if your chances of having a career depend on consuming a service sold by the likes of Elsevier and producing content for Elsevier, it's quite obvious that you have to play along this scheme if you intend to have a career.
It's often hard to do so with the theoretical work in academia due to various reasons, either by its pure technical difficulty, or lack of immediate applications. That's why they need to be peer-reviewed. And Elsevier provides a "prestige" platform to have respectable in-field people to review your research and decide it's good or not, due to the lack of other metrics.
I failed to see how it's related to journal's physical form. As soon as the importance of the research need to be evaluated by other experts, similar platform will exist.
Of course, things like arXiv  also exist.
I publish most of my research in the proceedings of the ACM conferences. ACM is a professional association, not a for-profit enterprise. Peer review is carried out by unpaid program committees, where I believe the primary motivation to participate is a combination of moral obligation, networking (with the other committee members), and an opportunity to get exposed to cutting-edge research. This part is similar to other fields, I believe. The main difference is that paper authors are expected to provide camera-ready PDFs of their paper, with the ACM doing little apart from proving LaTeX templates, concatenating the PDFs, and perhaps arranging a few print runs (but I think it's been a while since I have seen physical proceedings).
Most ACM conferences (and journals) are not open access, but some are. Generally it takes a subscription to their Digital Library to download the papers. My impression is that this subscription is cheaper than for the large publishing houses, but I don't know. In any case, an author can pick various licensing models for their paper, with one of them permitting the author to provide a "preprint" of the paper on their personal or institutional website. In practice, that means the papers are publicly available with minor effort, only that ACM does not take responsibility for the hosting.
The entire process appears quite lean, and the expenses incurred by ACM are covered through general membership and conference attendance charges. Further, the ACM appears to continually (and rather aggressively) move towards even more open access-ish policies, likely because it is ultimately run by academics.
The main difference from arXiv is that pre-publication peer review does actually take place.
It's not a tautology, it's a vicious cycle: https://medium.com/flockademic/the-vicious-cycle-of-scholarl...
At some stage it even worked when used in the same lan. I guess I’m not one of those heroes that can single-handedly design and build a working program, I wish I could muster some help to make it real...
In my own field, virtually all of our journals are produced by non-profit learned societies instead of companies like Elsevier or Springer. But thank goodness that these journals are still published on paper and collected in my library alongside the production of PDFs. Any work I write requires having several publications open in front of me at any given time, and that is a lot easier with paper journals instead of PDFs. Plus, printed journals in library holdings allow one to spend hours browsing through research without any of the distractions that electronics bring.
I definitely appreciate having PDFs of articles, but paper still has its place.
Seriously, I'd only consider going to the library if I need a whole book (for a single chapter I wouldn't bother, digital or local printing is fine for that) or if the resource is not available in a digital format at all, which is getting exceedingly rare unless I need something really old. Especially if I've decided that I need paper X for whatever reason, then it'd be useful to read it right now at my desk instead of some time later this day after a visit to library.
I strongly disagree I’ve writtrn two published articles and two dissertations, and PDF versions have made my life so much easier (mendeley in particular)
It's arguable that stuff isn't actually in the public record if access requires payments.
Its like if we paid taxes to build and maintain roads and bridges, only to have the constructor give the rights of the finished result to a toll-both company in order so they could evaluate and rate how good the individual construction workers are and make it easier to promote and hire them in the future. It make no sense for any practical profession to behave like this, and yet thats how academia has operated for ages. It is time that the public get what it paid for.
Elsevier will happily publish your papers as open access (for a small service fee).
Basically, over the years, they acquired a bunch of academic publishers that were effectively not-for-profit. And since, they've been raising prices. Harvesting market position.
Sure, that's not illegal. But it's arguably immoral.
> Unfortunately, funders don't want to restrict where researchers can publish the work (in order to prevent themselves from being able to silence results they might not like, i.e. hinder "academic freedom"). This means that this demand is implemented by simply paying hugely disproportionate publishing fees ("article processing charges") to the same old journals to make the individual articles they funded available as open access.
First, it's an absurd rationalization because all the finding agencies need to do is say "starting Jan 2019, all research papers funded by this fund must be open access; each violation results in $1k reduction in the grant", and any journals that don't yet have the option would provide a ~$1k open access publishing option.
Second, I don't believe the rationalization is what's really going on. I think there just aren't any/enough people at the funding agencies that care.
As for your second point: obviously there are many funding agencies, and surely people don't care at some. I was mostly referring to those who do want to promote the adoption of open access, such as the Gates Foundation or the Wellcome Trust (and many national funding bodies). They have absolutely come out making the above argument. They're really hesitant about this (although without a doubt also due to lobbying by the traditional publishers), which is laudable but also exacerbates the problem.
(Note also that they do have reason to be hesitant: science has seen a lot of pushback in the past, so these lessons have been hard-won and are ingrained in their DNA. Any movement that appears to go in the direction of the times when the catholic church could limit the adoption of scientific theories is met with heavy scepticism.)
Been considering moving to one of the countries high on the democracy index to work/code and pay taxes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index
Many issues therefor remains unresolved. The housing market would be exhibit A. Fortunately Sweden can "coast" on past achievements for a while, but sooner or later the dysfunction will have lasting consequences.
Sweden = local politics. It's a small nation. 25% of their population lives in just four cities.
Directly comparing the whole of the US to Sweden is absurdity. One would expect a dramatic increase in messy national politics if you took 33 Swedens and put them under a Federal authority.
For comparison, Sweden is about the size of California, with roughly one forth of its population.
> In the US, on average if you want to see a better form of political discourse, you have to move toward more local politics (whether state, county, city, town).
In my experience, local politics tends to be... More entertaining. Maybe because it's a lower barrier for entry.
> Sweden = local politics. It's a small nation. 25% of their population lives in just four cities.
The majority of its population lives outside of the largest four cities. There's a lot of difference between those four cities as well.
For example, Ireland is currently number 6 on the Democracy Index, but way down at number 19 on the Corruption Perceptions Index. Correspondingly, Singapore is high at number 7 on the Corruption Perceptions Index, but down at 69 on the Democracy Index. I would suggest that you should look at both lists before deciding where to move.
Go here: http://openaccess.blogg.kb.se/2018/05/16/sweden-stands-up-fo...
Superb news though, couldn't happen to a nicer company.
All: it's helpful to email firstname.lastname@example.org in cases like this because then we see it, and can act, quickly.
Legality aside, given how high the usability of Sci-Hub is these days, I have no doubt in my mind about who got the short end of this stick...
What if in stead of a giant stack of hard to nav papers...
...what if in stead each discipline would aim to publish a book????!
Each chapter would highlight the most important components of which the full version would be.... another book?
tier 2 of the books would simply refer to papers to provide even more additional reading.
The whole thing would keep it self up to date using version control and the closer to the front page of tier 1 the more extremely critical the review would be. An as-large-as-possible crowd sourced budget should be dedicated to reviewing and rewriting each of the book.
Each would be freely available online but every self respecting nerd would want a copy on his bookshelves.
A strict less is more policy would keep the books portable.
Technicality of the tier 1 books should be limited as much as possible in order to fit in a little encyclopedia of terms and methods.
By exposing the most important parts of a field to an audience as large as possible scientists would finally get the recognition they deserve which in turn would stimulate allocation of public funds.
A truly absurd idea, there, I said so myself.
Citationsy also has a similar feature built-in: https://citationsy.com/blog/new-feature-citationsy-archives/
Neither that page nor any of the linked pages mention sci-hub. I can see why they don't, but I guess all researchers know about it already.
Tack, ha en bra dag!
Some number of people are just predatory over profits, whatever the level of intelligence, legality and social status. Whatever the origins of this science conglomorate, you can bet that over the years, a crude extraction of profits via control of players, emerged.
I wish that Elsevier was being paid to solve a bunch of hard security problems but they seem to just be an expensive paywall. For example, do they provide a block chain or other trusted time stamp solution to make it easy to prove that a publication was “first” (no matter who decides to steal a file and copy/paste their own name as author instead)? I’d really like to see those kinds of things become mainstream defaults for publishing. Right now the main downside to just throwing files on random web sites is that they don’t typically have those security elements, making it easy to steal and hard to authenticate what you’re seeing.
You'd only need blockchain if you don't trust the preprint servers, but I don't think there's reason not to.
Many people here view Elsevier as this evil nebulous entity. Leaving "evil" aside, like every large business, Elsevier is composed to people, some of them very smart.
Which is to say Elsevier has seen this "open access" movement coming for a better part of a decade now, just like everyone else. As far back as 2011 the industry has been inventing ways to make "open access" as profitable as the current system (ideally, even more). Green open access, gold open access, diamond and hybrid; moving walls, paywalls, article processing charges…
Having seen the sausage made, I guess I'm a little cynical about "open access". I see it devoid of the idealistic "stick it to the man" connotations, and more like another feel-good buzzword scam.
If that's what they were doing, nothing could better demonstrate that they missed the point entirely and misunderstand the word 'open'.
I would say every semi-big company probably has many smart people working for them. That does not prevent them from doing very stupid/bad/evil things, and sometimes disappearing.
The fact that they anticipated the move does not mean anything regarding their future, just like Kodak with digital photography for instance.
Taken differently, maybe you see a tsunami coming from very far away and are able to even calculate how strong it is and when it will come, but that does not mean you will be able to save your house in the seafront ;)
Obviously any company can fail. I'm just offering a little inside information that pushes back against the notion that Elsevier is a static, dumb, backward-facing entity, taken completely by surprise by this new-fangled thing called "open access". Not the case.
A lot earlier than that, I was discussing the options for online publishing with the then CTO of Elsevier in 1987.
Elsevier has had a very strong online publishing platform for quite a while now (including SRU interfaces for federated article search, which we integrated too). If you were involved in that effort, my belated thanks :-)