SciHub is the original reason why open-access plans like this one have a chance of working at all. The authors of this paper simply announce that the SciHub approach has won and it's time to stop pretending otherwise and break the status quo of modern science publishing.
arXiv positions itself in a place before the journals in the food chain; anyone can upload a paper there, including authors who submit to journals, but all of these papers are "preliminary", as in, "before journal edits". It's questionable if journal edits actually bring any value, but nonetheless, their status is that they're going to be "likely different in some way" than whatever journals publish.
SciHub allows free access to the "final" pieces of work, even if they're equivalent (or even equal) to the "non-final" ones available on arXiv. That's a big mental difference.
also interested in such sites for optics, engineering (or throw whatever at me what you got!)
> By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.
I decided to take a look at the biotechnology journal
However, it seems the current issue is July 2017? Is it not updated frequently?
That's exactly what's happening with Open Access Journals: they charge the authors to finance editing and other editorial processes, and distribute papers for free and with liberal licenses.
It's not the cost of a value-adding service, but the cost of having a huge technical debt that nobody has bothered paying down on.
I misread your "I never understand this argument." as not understanding what consp wrote, "this" was a bit ambiguous, and I originally thought you meant "I'm the scientist, let me do science instead of communicating clearly what I did and observed" but now I see "this" referred to the argument consp quoted. So we are both agreeing with him. Add to that that I was confusing a sibling comment with what consp wrote. :)
At least one publisher, despite claiming to 'accept LaTeX', appears to just copy-and-paste from the pdf output into Adobe InDesign and manages to introduce tonnes of new errors, which then I have to have substantial time to fix (for free, again). [And usually I don't manage to catch everything.]
Why exclude those fields? I would argue that poor editing skills are fairly widespread, regardless of domain.
Copyediting is still badly needed, but that's typically foisted upon a grad student; the journals don't contribute much as far as I can tell.
Actually some conferences come with "publishing fees" in the form of "if you want to publish at our conf of course you'll have to present here, which means you'll buy a ticket, which is veeeeery expensive".
That means all successful papers are paying for any costs incurred for the review (editor or peer) of 20.
You can look at non-profit journals like the PLOS journals, they still have charges in the region of $1600-3000.
disclaimer - work in the field for Digital Science, which is part of Holtzbrinck
If reviewers were paid you would have a better point IMO.
> All that activity the journals do prior to publication can probably be streamlined and solved a lot more efficiently
It's a huge industry though, and so saving money can translate to huge profit increases. While not competitive like other marketplaces are, I'm sure these places like money and so have their own drive to cut costs. You can't just throw technology or "social platform" at a problem and hope costs go down.
Source: published in Nature and Science.
But yes, the (well known) profit margins of some of these publishers are quite simply obscene.
Right, so the incoming money is spent on the company itself - so should represent the long term running costs, surely.
> And PLOS, like for-profit publishers, has in the past had very large profit margins (and has been criticised for this, e.g. ).
I'm not sure I'd say those are extreme, $5M on $50M in revenue. Even if you removed that you would still have APCs of ~$1450-2700 which I don't think would change the original point.
“Non-profit” does not mean an organization does not earn profits. It means that it is not a vehicle for returning profits to particular stakeholders (owners, shareholders, LLC members, etc.)
I think these science funders should make some grants available to build some high quality digital tools for fields outside of CS to make journal creation and maintenance easier.
Other important steps:
- Abolishing copyright transfers
- No more embargo periods
- A cap on publication fees ("Article Processing Charges")
And, they have 35 years of history showing they wouldn't sell your content under the bus.
That actually means that papers (and research data hopefully?!) can be published for the people who bought the research to be able to legally access it; but journals have opportunity to prove their added value still. And if they do add value, the market can provide a price for it.
So non-OA journals can still curate, review, typeset, index, etc., just not lock the publicly funded research itself away.
That means the public can find all the footpaths, but if someone creates an innovative map, or a useful compendium they can still sell that.
> what does the public gain from that?
The public and researchers gain permanent access to the research output regardless of which publisher, what deals are in place, where they are or whether their library has a current subscription. It allows researchers to do work analysing the content itself too as they'll then have a licence to do so (useful if you want to analyse, say, 10M papers). Research output reported in the news will be available for any interested party
The downside is that instead of publishing for free and then the readers paying, the payment model will be flipped to upfront payment for services and then free access.
Since the publication fee is covered as direct costs in research grants reimbursed at 100% by the funding authorities, there is no incentive for writers to be price conscious while at the same time being strong-armed to publish in those journals or lose their job.
Are the structural problems inherent in publish-or-perish mitigated in any way yet?
In any case, some disciplines in life sciences pay the fee to commercial publishers in order to avoid their own internal politics. Open access publishers can have their own problems with politics and transparency which are at this time masked because everyone publishes in high-impact third party commercial publishers. It is a little more difficult to trust the publication record as a proxy for value when you know that e.g. connections have played a part in it.
Hybrid usually refers to journals that have some OA and some non-OA content.
However, I'm not sure if the initiative is talking about not publishing in hybrid journals at all, or that publishing non-oa followed by later paying for OA is not acceptable.
> In any case, some disciplines in life sciences pay the fee to commercial publishers in order to avoid their internal politics. Open access publishers can have their own problems with politics and transparency which are at this time masked because everyone publishes in third party commercial publishers.
I'm not sure if I understand right, but there's no distinction between OA publishers and commercial publishers. OA really just refers to the rights of the final paper, not whether the publisher turns a profit.
> I'm not sure if I understand right
I was making a point about how impact factors are used as proxy for value in life sciences. Because life scientists have done that, they are now dependent on a model in which a third party (the commercial publishers) is judging their work. Going fully open access means the journals will more or less have the same impact factor, because the strong incentive to work towards increasing it (more paid subscriptions) has gone away. So , at least in life sciences, academics will have to learn to evaluate the work of each other more openly, something that other disciplines have achieved long ago (e.g CS, math , physics).
It's potentially the largest part IMO. That would dramatically change the landscape as all research output from EU funding could simply never appear in certain journals rather than requiring that journals add an OA option. Major journals would need to switch from closed/hybrid to full OA, and soon.
> The scientist still pays a hefty fee ($5000) to publish a paper. It's probably more economical for the Funding bodies to pay the OA fee rather than paying the subscriptions, but it still foots a bill.
Yes, it's a shift in who pays - it's not a claim that the EU will now forbid paying for publishing. They are however (as now a customer with enormous weight) saying they'll cap the APCs.
> Going fully open access means the journals will more or less have the same impact factor,
I don't see that being at all true, I'm not sure why you'd expect that.
> because the strong incentive to work towards increasing it (more paid subscriptions) has gone away
The incentive is still to get researchers to publish in the journal, arguably the desire to be more restrictive may increase.
This is the EU – and their allies at places like the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust – negotiating with tanks in public (and not before time, in my personal view).
The centre of the argument is in life sciences, because that's where the most money is, because all of the physical scientists read arXiV anyway, and because the scholarly societies, led by the American Physical Society, have managed to hang on and are notably less rapacious than Holzbrinck and Elsevier.
Nature/Holzbrinck/Digital Science are arguing the other side, because of course they are, who wants to get disrupted? And Nature is their bully pulpit.
A lot of this comes down to the scholarly societies – many of whom are much easier to deal with, a notable exception being the American Chemical Society, who are very hard to deal with because they're led around by the nose by the Chemical Abstracts Service – being displaced by a small number of vehemently commercial big corporates. They know fine well this is a wasting asset and they've been trying to wring as much cash from it as possible, and it's hastened this endgame.
> This is the EU – and their allies at places like the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust – negotiating with tanks in public (and not before time, in my personal view).
I don't know I'd see it quite like that, far from a negotiating point they seem to be much more simply the customer. They have decided what they want to do with their work and money, it's entirely up to them how to spend it. It's been a while coming, but publishing is a slow industry.
The risk, really, that the publishing industry has been running with for some time is that it relies enormously on submitted work from a relatively small number of funders (and then the funders are often owned by the same government, and in the EU those governments work very closely together). A change in view from those few customers means larger things need to change.
> Nature/Holzbrinck/Digital Science are arguing the other side, because of course they are, who wants to get disrupted? And Nature is their bully pulpit.
Not sure I've seen DS arguing either side in this really. Personally it'll make my work at DS easier the more that's open access and unless I've missed something doesn't really impact any of the major products - I can't see how it'd change Dimensions for example (apart from making it easier to ingest more full text data). I certainly can't see where it would "disrupt" DS. Would be interested to know what you think would be disrupted.
It's a change to the business model of some of the publishing, but while a big change in the industry hardly one that should come as a surprise - and one that there's already a widely used alternative model already in place. It's a much bigger shift given they aren't accepting hybrid journals, but doesn't rule out commercial operation. Seeing what they choose as their cap for the APCs will be interesting.
It certainly doesn't rule out commercial publishers, but it cuts the knees out from the selling-non-negotiable-bundles-to-university-libraries model the big publishers have been leaning on.
> DS appeared pretty clearly to be Macmillan-at-the-time's hedge against OA blowing up the conventional journal business, though, from an outside perspective)
Yes, I don't know if I'd put it as OA focussed though, rather it's been a hedge about something changing and altering the business model. Never been in the high level meetings that would have seen this discussion though so it's all anyone's guess.
Conflict of interest with this reporting much?
Arguments of both sides are presented, not too much sensationalism, that's better journalism than many so called "independent" newspapers.
No, it's clearly chosen to suggest it is an extreme break from the status quo practice.
Edit: here's a statement from a 2016 article: Nature’s news and comment team is editorially independent of the publisher’s research editorial teams 
(I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist of it.)
That would stop publication in a day. Or less.
Longer version: https://pdfernhout.net/on-funding-digital-public-works.html
Related pledge for organizations:
"Our organization, ______, pledges to our our stakeholders and the people of the world that from this date forward, ________, whenever we use charitable or public dollars to fund or create any new content, software, or any other sort of copyrightable or patentable materials intended for public distribution and public use (or substantially modify existing public content), we will ensure those works will be distributed to the public under free/libre licenses. Free/libre licenses means those who receive the works have the freedom to use, run, copy, study, change, improve, redistribute, and/or distribute modified versions of the works without paying additional fees or obtaining additional permissions."
Sure, I get that this is radical in the sense that some leeches' industry will dry up. That's a good thing but it puzzles me how we got in this situation in the first place.
- authors pay to publish their work
- readers pay to read the articles
- reviewers review pro-bono
* Ensure that the content of a submission meets minimal guidelines for submission.
* Figure out who appropriate reviewers might be. This means figuring out which research areas are relevant, filtering out reviewers who might have conflicts of interest (same institution, previous advisor/advisee relationship, recent collaboration, etc.). You also need to ensure that you load balance reviews across reviewers.
* Appropriately double-blind the submission so that the reviewers don't know who submitted the paper, and the authors don't know who reviewed the paper. You are now an intermediary for all of this communication.
* Make a judgement call of which papers will be accepted for publishing.
* You need to facilitate necessary edits from the authors to get it ready to publish.
* Convert paper formats, supplementary data, etc. for uploading. Basically all the editing tasks that you probably thought was the only thing on this list.
* Oh, and reviewers and authors are likely professors who are horribly oversubscribed in terms of their time, so you need to play babysitter to make sure that the tasks actually get done in a reasonable manner.
When you consider how few papers actually get published, and just how much administrative work is required to publish a paper, costing hundreds or thousands of dollars to publish a paper is not unreasonable.
An open access journal doesn't have to do any of that. They have to have some editors do final editing (who get paid), a website where they post the article, and they'll probably pay a CDN (so the website doesn't even need to be very fast). If they're smart they'll create a static (generated) website, which is extraordinarily cheap to maintain today. They don't need to create paper copies - if someone wants a paper copy, that individual can print it. They don't need to worry about the massive overhead of digital rights management (DRM) systems, because they don't need them. They don't need to negotiate expensive contracts with libraries (they still have to negotiate small contracts for editing and such, but small dollar amounts are easier to manage). Normal search engines can use their data directly, so they don't need their own search engine. You don't need an army of lawyers to punish the sharing of scientific results that were paid for by society; you don't even need to track down those people who were sharing scientific results. An open access journal needs reviewers, but they are already volunteers, so that wouldn't change.
For-profit publishing requires a tremendous amount of overhead that provides no value to society. Publishers do it because they can do all that and still make a giant profit, and they can just pass all those costs on to society.
I m not saying it doesnt cost some amount, but for high impact journals a lot of the cost goes to publicity work, which in the end benefits the status of the paper but not science.
When one user argued that people in rare-disease
families “shouldn’t have to jump through additional
hoops to access information,” Gunn responded, “Yes,
everyone should have rainbows, unicorns, & puppies
delivered to their doorstep by volunteers. Y’all keep
wishing for that, I’ll keep working on producing the
best knowledge and distributing it as best we can.”
I wonder how far the 'fee per published article' gets to covering bare costs for e.g. the journal Nature.
But then, I can't back this up with numbers as they do not publish specifics...
Per that article: "According to its 2013 financials Elsevier had a higher percentage of profit than Apple, Inc."
There's no need to "distribute by volunteers". We have something called the Internet - put the articles on a website, click, and you're done. Indeed, for the most part publishing on paper is a mistake - what we need is the electrons, not paper. Editors aren't free, but they don't cost the money that Elsevier and others charge. Reviews are done by volunteers, almost without exception, so there's no need to pay publishers for review.
For-profit scientific publishers provided an important service in the 1950s. It's not the 1950s any more, and they don't provide any valuable services any more. All the real services - namely the scientific work - are paid by others, and so those others should reap the rewards.
When "best we can" obviously means "best (for us as) we can (scam the marks for)", you are a parasite.
at best he s publishing it
The average return on 1 hour of grant writing for a PI or experience staff researcher is ~ $300, averaged over the year. One 10-hour review therefore has ≥ $3000 opportunity cost to my lab.
Looking at the opportunity cost to my funders due to spending time on a review instead of on research, funders presumably believe that research is at least as valuable as the how much they pay to support it. At the rates I'm familiar with, the opportunity cost to them is therefore at least $800 for a 10 hour review. Worse, a portion of every grant from the NIH or NSF is filtered through the university system as "indirect costs" and paid to the publishers as journal subscription fees. (The amount paid in subscription fees is hidden behind NDAs.)
There are 2-3 reviewers per paper, and a paper may be rejected and resubmitted 2-4 times. Reviews don't follow a paper between resubmissions—the whole process starts again from square one with new reviewers. So multiply the per-reviewer costs above by somewhere between 2 and 12 to get the total cost.
One could counter that review generates similar value as other research activities. I doubt this. The cost-benefit tradeoffs involved in review strongly incentivize cutting corners or delegating the task to inexperienced workers, which lessens the average review quality. The median review is a list of gut reaction bullet points rather than an evidence-based critique. This promotes an adversarial relationship between reviewers and authors. Of course there are many idealistic people who fully commit to the process anyway, but the system as a whole is costly and wasteful.
(All of this is based on my experience doing academic biomedical research in the US. It is probably laughably wrong for other fields or other countries.)
For high impact journals, it may be possible to find enough volunteer editors who are willing to accept compensation solely in the form of a line of their CV. Less prestigious journals need to provide additional incentives to editors, and cash has a proven track record of motivating people.
Perhaps academic publishers collect to much rent from their pseudo-monopolies on specific publishing niches, but it is difficult to escape the basic economics of publishing.
As far as I know, the only ongoing costs for the publisher (not immediately recouped via conference admission) would be running their own website and providing downloads. These hardly seem like massive expenses to me.
I don't see any fundamental reason why the model in CS couldn't work for other disciplines even if you don't want to adopt conferences; people are willing to step up and do the work, so why is so much money going to the middle men?
Because the middle men like getting free money, and it's not other people's jobs to fix the problem. If you're an academic, your job is to produce papers that get published, not fix the publishing system. If you're a library, your job is to make materials available to patrons, not fix the publishing industry. In contrast: If you're a for-profit publisher, your job is to maximize profit, which means minimize your costs and maximize your income.
What's changed is that the costs are now so steep, and the value provided by publishers is so little, that it's become painfully obvious that scientific journal publishers don't provide value compared to the rent fees they charge everyone else.
Because the scientific community hasn't put forth an alternative.
Many journal publishers do not even provide proofreading or editor services any more. The author is expected to do all that on his own, and then provide camera-ready output. In the case of for-profit publishers, about the only thing that they provide is the actual printing and distribution, not anything editing-related, and so you can imagine their profit margins.
> Less prestigious journals need to provide additional incentives to editors, and cash has a proven track record of motivating people.
Again, at least in my own field all of our journals, regardless of prestige, are produced on the part of volunteer labor. Where are you that people are being paid to serve as editors or reviewers?
It's true that there are some editorial costs, but most open access journals have a one-time editorial cost that cover this. Since it's one-time, the total costs to society are far, far less. Currently governments pay hundreds of thousands of times to access each article (via library subscriptions), instead of paying once to have it published. And since the public is paying for this research, it makes sense that the public should get the result.