They do not pay the authors for the content, they do not pay the reviewers (who are the "added value" they harp on about).
They're basically a tool that converts tax payer money (the vast majority of those people writing papers are paid in part or entirely by tax payer funds) into private money for the publisher.
When high journal fees are talked about an often over looked fact is that scientists chose this model. Scientific journals were originally run as non-profits by their members.
I guess it was considered too much hassle, and they decided to move production too an external company... that’s when all this rent seeking behavior began.
My opinion really, is that scientists themselves should move back to the scientific society runs the journal model. It doesn’t make much work to publish a bunch of PDFs in an archive anymore.
I'm a huge proponent of open-access publishing, but one must also appreciate the importance of the journals to the health of the society.
Here are relevant passages from statements by both candidates for treasurer in the 2018 APS election:
Candidate 1: James Baird
For now, there would seem to be three principal threats to the financial health of the Society. These are:
1. Open Access Publishing: Paid library subscriptions to APS journals constitute the largest single source of income to the society. Open access publishing threatens this subscription model. If paid library subscriptions disappear entirely, a new payer or payers will need to be found. Currently, this appears to be the author or the author’s institution. APS open access journal, Physical Review X, and the open access opportunities offered by the other Physical Review journals, are an ongoing experiment. The treasurer will need to be alert to financial trends in open access publishing.
Candidate 2: James Hollenhorst
APS is in very good shape, both in carrying out its mission and in its financial health. Nevertheless, the Society and its membership face many challenges, not the least of which is the threat to the business model due to rapid changes in the scientific publishing field. Open access is the rallying cry from the government, the universities, and from the readers and authors of our journal articles; but someone has to pay for the added value that APS brings.
I find it interesting that you are advocating the removal of a current capitalistic/greedy funding model and replacing it with...another capitalistic/advertising model.
>The society is a network of researchers with like interests.
So, the added value is for the researchers in the network, but that value is subsidized by the "payers", who are not the researchers?
>Open access publishing threatens this subscription model. If paid library subscriptions disappear entirely, a new payer or payers will need to be found.
Seriously, a society should not be funded by publication fees.
Personally I think it would be better for the societies to stay small and be funded by membership fees or grant funding (as part of out reach other activities, meetings etc on grants).
If you find it through publishing you can’t really complain about the rent seeking behavior of journals...
So it’s probably a wash if we lose the revenue, but don’t pay for the various people.
Largely, I think it’s tradition.
By this I don't mean a copy editor, but the person who decides who to send the manuscript for review, and makes the decisions on whether the manuscript is rejected, accepted, or more review is needed. Doing this job properly basically requires a researcher with experience in the field the journal is about.
It appears there are many journals where no editor is employed full-time by the publisher. If all of them are unpaid, then indeed the journal operation should be cheap.
There are however some journals (iirc Nature and APS journals are like this) with professional editors employed by the publisher.
Anyway, most of the journals I know use unpaid editors, that do it because of prestige. That does not make the journal articles any cheaper.
But it's easy to overlook important costs in the publication system. One, as others have observed, is editors (and some administrative staff). Their value is certainly up for debate; I have had colleagues ascribe significantly more value to them than some of the other comments here.
Another, though, is archival and continuity of access. The publisher I am most familiar with is the ACM; they have contracts with archivers in place so that should they go insolvent or otherwise be unable to continue providing access to the published papers, these firms will take their archives live so the work remains accessible. By the very nature of the business, the fees they collect now need to be sufficient to keep the work accessible in perpetuity with no further payment.
As with other societies, ACM's journal revenue also goes to fund conference development, outreach and advocacy activities, student grants, etc.
There is a lot of rent-seeking in scholarly publishing, even (in my opinion) from scholarly societies. I personally believe that many of our needs could be better met by investing the funds we currently spend on commercial publishing in university libraries and rehoming the scholarly publishing enterprise there. However, sustainable open access is not as simple as just running a web server.
These people spend 0 on content and their infrastructure is easily rivaled by free alternatives.
He is in no way downplaying anything. The whole thing is ridiculous.
Yeah right, that's why SciHub, which does it for free has been nearly impossible to maintain. The main difficulty is the cost of hosting, and not at all the mounting pressure from the litigation from the publishing industry.
Everything else they might do - collating papers into a physical journal, complaining about bibliography formats, etc. is superfluous nonsense that nobody really cares about.
Look at arxiv - the only thing it's missing that journals have is reviews.
Yelp -- How are their costs significant? Web hosting is extremely cheap.
Twitter -- How are their costs significant? Web hosting is extremely cheap.
Is the value of journals over arxiv worth the price? (market says yes, but markets are sometimes wrong).
Or SciHub's, for that matter.
But this is one of the biggest sites in the world. Something closer to what Journal Publisher's would need is Arxiv.
Arxiv's budget is $1m of which they spend $60k on hosting and basically all of the rest on staff and staff support.
Eslevier's revenue is £2.5b. billion. Their profit margin is over 50%. What a monumental waste.
That is a pretty significant difference.
They do have editors and other staffs, aren't they?
My advice to students: NEVER just accept the proofs they send you, ALWAYS do meticulous proofreading of the proofs even if your manuscript was flawless. I'm aware of one case where they removed the entire abstract, and since the authors didn't notice that when checking the proofs in the publisher's online proof-checking system, the paper was published that way. They had to publish an erratum with the abstract because, once published, they don't allow changes to articles, even if it was clearly a mistake by the journal. (Disclaimer: It wasn't my paper, so I don't have an axe to grind here; I just found it appalling.)
They are not editors in any real sense of the word.
Most of the work they do is, indeed, forwarding emails (not even reading reviews and authors responses). However, from time to time, they have to solve difficult issues (corrections, conflicts, plagiarism) and for that you need a person.
Culture promotes an "authority" of a journal, while the journal gets to selectively choose what to publish, while collecting fees from scientists and their institutions & trying to gouge the public by renting out the work of scientists at high rates.
I don't mean to cast doubt on the tweet's purpose (I agree with it), and for what it's worth I've emailed other researchers for paper access as well. I would just like to see some proper legal analysis behind these questions, because I see the same point repeated frequently by scientists who are not lawyers.
It would be pretty cool if there were a platform that automated your request to get a paper from an author. I don't know how that would be plausible without hosting the papers though, and I imagine that would get into trouble.
Even if you technically aren’t allowed to share, that has NEVER stopped someone from sharing in my career. The only time I’ve had trouble with people sharing is if I ask for code to reproduce what they published. That usually is met with silence.
SIESTA (icmab.es/siesta) is now open too, I note. That's the team I used to work alongside.
Although I agree with this sentiment, I think that if this was a requirement we would not get much more code but much less papers.
The trouble being that those "specific implementation details" are typically non-obvious and absolutely crucial to getting the system described to work at all. For instance, as far as I know, nobody's managed to implement a WaveNet that sounds anything like as good as Google's samples. Neural Turing Machines - published three years ago - were so finicky that someone actually figuring out how to implement the damn thing and have it actually work as described was enough to warrant a paper of its own (Implementing Neural Turing Machines, https://arxiv.org/pdf/1807.08518.pdf). Not to mention how hard it is to iterate on failed replications when you aren't blessed with ten thousand Nvidia Teslas and custom tensor ASICs and have to wait eternities for models to train. At this point, I think most of the community just kind of looks at their papers, sighs in jealousy, and moves on.
I work in an university, but in close collaboration with industrial companies. We use models that we explain with detail in our papers, so that other researchers can write their own implementations and maybe confirm or disprove our results. But we do not make the code available.
This is what I see, that does not mean I think it is the best approach. I would really like to release all the code I write. It would make research advance faster, and I do not think that it would harm the company who pays for my work in any way.
But they pay, and they have strict policies. At least they allow me to share most of my code with other researches in a personal basis and write papers about it. I am quite sure that, if to publish papers I had to always share the code, they would just directly hire me or someone else to do it and there would be no papers at all.
9 times out of 10 they have a mirror of the PDF.
What do you think is the difference between a pre-print and the published version? Let me tell you - it's zero difference except for the page number is added.
On the other hand, all of the instances I'm aware of, the authors can send out copies of the paper after reviewing changes; i.e. the same content that will be (or was) published. It may or may not have the same formatting, but it's the same text.
Re: your latter case, yes. I suspect that automating this process will likely lead to worse consequences (sharing papers via email is something that everyone-knows-that-everyone-does kinda thing, even if it may not be "fully legal"—whatever that means), but setting up infrastructure to share your papers (even with approval) is likely to be met with some amount of resistance and probably not-greatly-worded letters from publishers.
To be fair, a good chunk of useful publishers (not all... I'm looking at you, Cell) are moving to allow reviewed articles on authors' websites, but almost all journals allow preprints to be available on open sites (and be submitted for review).
1. Pre-review, pre-print: i.e. the journal had no part in the paper up to this point
2. Post-print: Changes have been made to satisfy the reviewers' comments. Contains all the final content that will be published
3. Publisher's version: The publisher has done copy-editing (layout changes), and probably adjusted it to fit whatever style their journal is.
You can check the rules for most publications here: http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php
If you're into brevity, you can also search for PhD theses of one of the co-authors within a similar time period as the interesting article. I believe in vast majority of papers the footwork is done by a PhD student, that will then incorporate the thing into a thesis.
If all else fails, email the authors.
You might be mistakenly thinking of the requirement not to submit the same paper concurrently to other journals. For example, ACM's policy: https://www.acm.org/publications/policies/author-representat...
And from ACM's "Author Rights" page: "Authors can post the accepted, peer-reviewed version prepared by the author [...] On Author's own Home Page" https://authors.acm.org/main.html
I mean you no personal disrespect. However after reviewing your request, I believe your institution serves no purpose in today's publishing world and absolutely will not be paying it USD 1,250 for the privilege of publishing of a paper in a field in which I am not an expert. Such a contribution would in no way advance either Science or humanity, but instead only create more confusion by frustrating several fields' fledgling efforts to sift the wheat from the chaff using a proper scientific process.
Wishing your institution failure in the sincerest capacity,
(In the US, it's mostly just about pay-for-play--i.e. you won't get a speaking slot unless you sponsor--but I've heard about much sleazier operations elsewhere.)
Authors (more precisely, the grants we get to do our research in academia, or our employers in industry) pay the journal for the privilege of publishing there, and offer our services as reviewers for brownie points.
If journals paid authors for published papers, there would be a greater incentive for an author to tweak/falsify data to make the conclusions stronger, the paper more exciting, and more attractive to publishers.
None of this should be taken to suggest that there aren't issues with the scientific journal model but lack of author payments is probably not one of them.
What's the incentive for a scientist to hand over copyrights to a journal?
Various Journals have reputations in certain fields and publishing in such a journal is a measure of your ability within your field. I can glance at an academics publications list and get a good measure of their speciality within a field and the likely quality of their work.
There are various methods to add numbers to this. Journals often go by the impact factor and academics are measured by the h-index. Most of these are only relavent within a particular field as some topics are hotter than others and generate more citations.
Historically journals were run by various intellectual societies etc. Papers were submitted for publication and the editors would send manuscripts to other academics for review. All of this was voluntary, not unlike the old days of internet moderation.
Of course to distribute the printed volumes of the journal readers were asked to pay. All of this was considered reasonable.
What happened was that text book publishers began to buy up journals and sell tranches of journals to university libraries. You could no longer buy those three subscriptions you need, you’ve have to buy this expensive bundle, oh and you don’t get a print version, that’s extra.
So we now have a situation where government and industry fund scientific research. Academics, who need strong publications to get ahead, write and also review manuscripts for free so that some publishing house can claim massive profits for hosting a bunch of €50 PDFs.
It’s no wonder SCI-HUB, where almost every researcher I know pirates papers daily, has taken off.
Apparently, people would rather submit to abusive high impact journals than help raise the impact factor of open access journals.
What journals and publishers provide are: esteem, convenience, trust, correctness, and, and this might sound outrageous in the age of the bazaar, but exclusivity. There is an awful lot of crap out there. In my opinion, the best feature publishers (open access or otherwise) provide is being a filter for all the noise of the internet. Some journals are better at this than others and reputation is hard earnt and easily lost.
Also, I can't speak for all OA journals, but the Impact Factor is considered an awful metric and avoided. There is the rise of so-called 'alt-metrics', but I've yet to see anything less-awful come out of that yet.
What baffles me is why these people choose academia. It's a really uncertain and laborious way to even sustain oneself, let alone succeed.
Basically, a paper that is published in a journal like Nature or Science or the field-specific top journals is assumed by the community to have been reviewed at much higher standards than those published in lesser known journals, just because it is much, much more difficult to publish in these journals. Thus a paper there will be a signal that you are a capable scientist.
Also, peer review is necessary as protection against crap. I am not saying that this is a fool-proof system, but science has to have one, preprints should exist but science needs to be reviewed and approved by professionals in some way, and the professional reviewers need to be incentivised to do a decent job.
Peer review may be the only asset keeping journals alive at the moment. I've been wondering whether traditional journals can be overcome by making high-quality peer review the focus of the business model.
So what if the scientific community/industry focused on the real added value. Those are:
1. Peer review
Because the pre-internet problem of distribution doesn't exist anymore (a basic web server to host papers is relatively cheap), that would allow to bypass traditional journals.
For that to happen, we would need a group of already reputed and respected researchers to review the submitted articles. But because the journal fees would be avoided, that means the money could be collected to pay those reviewers.
> For that to happen, we would need a group of already reputed and respected researchers to review the submitted articles. But because the journal fees would be avoided, that means the money could be collected to pay those reviewers.
Scientists are motivated by curiosity for their field, prestige, and having a stable job position were they can follow these motivations without fear. But they are not motivated by money (grant applications are a necessary evil). Due to this I don't think that you can start paying professors with stable positions, but you could start permanently hiring those many highly qualified mid-career academics who are still on the way towards a permanent position (and may never reach it). The review quality will be improved if people review full time, which can lead to journal prestige, faster review times, reviews with a broader look on science.
But really, anyone with half a brain is going to try sci-hub first.
The various bits of IP that can be assigned for the work/discoveries you did vary very much from institution to institution, and may vary with the source of funding. Nothing is really simple here, an it runs the gamut from the investigator owning everything to the investigator owning nothing other than attribution, etc. rights
 https://www.elsevier.com/about/policies/copyright, for example
This is the best model I've seen for modern publishing
What is the alternative? There will be costs. How should it be paid for, which both maintains quality and is fair to authors?
Here is a paper from Doudna lab published in Nature. It should be free through PubMed Central.
How can these smart and brave people, that push the boundaries of human understanding and knowledge, act so stupid.
Or are they allowed in the sense that they don't require anyone's permission (making it stupid to believe that they do?)
Especially for junior faculty, making a principled stand is a good way to kill their career.
Also - used to be you'd set this to have a price context for reprints (printed version of the article with more logos) which were a much bigger & more profitable revenue source. Pharma companies would buy '00s to distribute at conferences.