Gabe Newell of Valve asserted something very similar:
> "We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem," he said. "If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable."
I don't know. Paying $25 or $50 for an article, just to see if it contains something useful is a lot ... And with the realization that the research was funded by tax dollars, that price becomes absurd.
As far as I know you can't get a refund if you don't like an article, but I may be mistaken. If you had that option, paying for a journal article might be slightly more palatable.
The quickest legal way to get a copy of a paper that isn't already accessible as a pre-print is to email the author(s). Usually they don't mind. Hint: email the student, not the prof and you're more likely to get a reply. You can also do this via ResearchGate.
I'd guess those sites are two orders of magnitude smaller than Steam, but a quick search reveals G2A has 700 employees and 16 million customers, so they can't be doing too bad. If access truly was the problem than these sites wouldn't exist.
I use this Library Genesis search page as portal to Scihub's papers, it's amazing being able to get just about any paper ever, even totally obscure ones from 70 or 100 years ago. I do check Google Scholar first - a lot of recent papers are available online from academic sites, and it's a great way of discovering author home pages.
EDIT: blame the academic management who gives the money to the publishers. This way the publishers will go away to greener pastures.
Scientists can publish in whatever journal they please. The problem is that if they publish in most open sources journals (there are exceptions), they aren't counted as top tier and it hurts their career.
The problem isn't academic administers demanding publication in recognized journals. Its that they charge steep prices in the first place.
The argument about how much money it's worth to pay for that is another discussion entirely.
Careful! Even the data on which journals are "high impact" is now proprietary.
No, of course it ought not to be this way.
But open source means that the work can be copied freely - which leads to marginal costs of near 0 €$.
When it comes to subscriptions: academic libraries, under pressure of academics. (And in this case, a group of German libraries finally refused to do so.)
When it comes to disproportionally high publishing fees, however, academics do have something to say, because they can often choose to publish somewhere with lower fees. However, that's not really an option as long as their career progression is determined by which journals they publish in. Thus, I think part of the cause there is those who use journal names as a criterion when judging e.g. grant applicants.
Where are these researchers who pressure the academic libraries to buy subscriptions? I never saw them, except if they are in the management.
If we were to speak in market terms, well, publishers are private entities driven by the market forces, right? So in market terms the clients (researchers) manifest a strong preference for other products than those offered by the publishers. Why do they still exist? Does not make any sense, except if we recognize also that the market is perturbed by the fact that somebody still buys their product and forces the clients to consume and to produce it.
If powerful researchers cared, they wouldn’t review for journals they don’t like. Obviously the benefit from doing the reviews is bigger than their preference of Open Access.
Researchers don't usually benefit from doing peer review: they don't get paid for it, and it eats time they could spend doing research. It's more of a sense of duty they have that they're "supposed" to do those reviews, and I can't really fault them for that.
(Though I would very much encourage them to only review for fully Open Access journals, and respond to review requests with invitations to submit the work to those journals.)
So if you don't review for closed-access venues (which I try to do), you are pressured into not publishing there: and not publishing in closed-access venues is difficult as most papers are collaborations, and usually your co-authors do not share your convictions.
I think why people review is:
-You should be reading more papers anyway and we like doing it, so why not take it as an obligation?
-I assume that eventually it helps one to get selected to be an area chair or something along those lines.
Can't you just publish in two journals then?
- sorry, I missed the sense of duty. Thanks for pointing it out below.
- added don’t
And again, I can't fault them for that.
(I assume you meant to say "don't benefit"?)
Until the appearance of the notion of open peer-review, the reviews were not public and thrown away by the editor after the publishing decision.
Concerning the sense of duty, nobody stops anybody to review a work and post it somewhere publicly accessible. However, that's rare to see.
I suspect they do have much to lose.
The future of making money from journals could potentially lie with curation: "these are the papers you need to read this month" with links to open-access papers. Indexing and search that exploits that curation also comes to mind: "these are the papers you should read while researching your problem."
The biggest problem that open-access is going to cause is volume. Although, that been said, that's an existing problem (though far less pronounced) in the Oldenburg model due to bad science.
Scientists (and lay people) already have access to excellent tools for this kind of thing. Pubmed provides functionality for performing automated and regular searches of their basically complete index of biological literature. https://ncbiinsights.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2013/11/14/setting-up-...
If you can afford it everyone should send a few bucks to the bitcoin address donation jar on the Sci-Hub site (1K4t2vSBSS2xFjZ6PofYnbgZewjeqbG1TM - but don't take my word for it) so that Elbakyan can keep developing cool stuff like that.
And the fact that requests for Elsevier stuff have "not increased correspondingly" implies that using Sci-Hub has become routine and unremarkable.
Well, Unpaywall works pretty well, and is actually legal: https://unpaywall.org
Columbia and NYU's medical libraries are only open to medical school students and faculty. No undergraduates. No alumni. The New York Public Library has surprisingly good online access but is missing a number of important journals and current issues are often delayed by agreement for several months.
If in this nation's largest city, current healthcare knowledge is bulkheaded from public access there is a serious problem. Whatever the publisher's rights these knowledge and information asymmetries must not be allowed to continue.
I wish municipal public libraries would provide access to scientific journals.
NYU and Columbia are both private universities of course. Does NYC even have a large top-tier public university? Hmm.
NYPL gives you access to more online paywalled journal subscriptions than nearly any other public library in the country though, you're lucky for that.
(If you're looking for print archives of journals, medical libraries are at the forefront of getting rid of historical print journal collections, because the usage of them was so tiny. The vast majority of medical researchers simply don't use historical print journal collections anymore, and there are non-trivial costs associated with keeping tons of bound journals getting almost no use...)
I am not arguing with your basic assertion that in America as a whole public access to paywalled academic research is a problem. I agree. (Apparently not just America, as OP is about Germany, where universities are collectively trying to _do_ something about it in a way we aren't really here).
The shift to electronic instead of print content doesn't help -- it's easier to simply give the public access to the physical environment to access stacks of bound journals (if you want to; or are required to give the public _some_ access as a federal depository library, sometimes easier to give them _all_ access), than it is to give them on-site access to electronic subscriptions (which you gotta get your vendors to agree is allowed, and then provide technological support for).
There are ways that the "digital revolution" has actually _hurt_ access to information, ironically.
It is a problem. But some (not all) university libraries, especially public university libraries, are trying. For instance, specifically insisting on public on-site access being included in their licenses from vendors. It's worth looking around and not assuming it's got to be a _medical_ library to get access to the online content. If you can't find it in NYC, it's probably even worse other places (although NYC's lack of major _public_ university probably doesn't help).
And then there's always sci-hub...
I certainly agree in principle that it ALL ought to just be in the commons, and not something only available through the richest universities (whether or not they then "share" it).
</a librarian software engineer>
But sometimes the total licensed resource access is available for _on-site_ public users, even if not alumni, because that may be included in the licenses.
I know you can't enter the medical library, but have you checked if you can get access to the resources you need on-site at another NYU library, that may allow the public to walk-in and use licensed resources from on-site workstations?
There may be resources licensed only to the medical library you can't get access to there -- but there may not be. Sometimes the particular people you are talking to asking questions don't understand the total licensing landscape of the university, especially if you are talking to people at the alumni office rather than librarians (but even every librarian may not, if you're not talking to someone whose job is centered on online resources; it gets terribly complicated, and libraries haven't always been great at keeping track of it and keeping it sane; the vendors' demands and irrational and enormously expensive contracts don't really help).
Laymen aren't going to be reading from these journals, they are really too technical to be informative. It's like having people without CS knowledge read through your source code and saying "Boom. Open source." By the time you explain someone the necessary conceptual ideas to understand these dense papers, you will be basically giving them a B.S. in biology.
The real crime with these journals is that it can cost thousands to have the privilege of your paper published. That's thousands that could have been spent on more reagents, equipment, or salaries to do even more science. Instead, you pay the toll troll, and you lost another x% of your grant earmarked by the government to do science.
You're right. We should lock up all knowledge to only those are who are not laymen. Want to learn CS, go to school. Clearly the only way to learn is to be taught. /s
This is probably the single most offensive thing I've read on this site.
I am a college dropout layperson who got a 0.0 GPA in my last semester enrolled in a liberal arts college who went on to replicate complicated experiments in sports science from these so-called "too technical to be informative" journals. A decade or so later, and now I run a fairly successful (30+ people employed) small business primarily because of the fact that I based my work on early publications I was lucky enough to get access through from students at the local public university.
With Sci-Hub, many terrible steps have been cut out of the process, and Elbakyan deserves Nobel Prize consideration for her work.
Meanwhile, your gatekeeping comments are elitist and only serve to increase inequality in all forms in this country (and the developing world, where academic freedom is truly useful to break paradigms).
Open source software need not be 100% understandable for it to be useful. We do business with as many vendors as possible that open source their code and work not because I am interested in validating their work, but because of the signal it sends that they feel comfortable and open enough to share their core products.
I hope you rethink your positions on these matters, because they're pretty offensive.
Of course, I can't (usually) read a journal article in a field in which I am a layman and understand it well enough to attempt to replicate its findings, critique its methodology, or make a follow-on contribution to the field. That's not the only value one might extract from a journal article.
What I can do is figure out if the mainstream press reporting on the article actually matches what the researchers found. The most common issue I see in mainstream press reporting is over-broad conclusions like "X is a cure for cancer" instead of "X is a 10% more effective treatment for Y type of cancer". Correlation reported as causation when the research did not draw such a conclusion is also annoyingly common.
It would seem to me that they're not exactly an unbiased spectator on the matter of publishers and access.
They do so by failing to mention the two obvious ways that people can use to get access to scientific papers without a subscription: (1.) preprints on open repositories and/or author websites, and (2.) Sci-Hub.
Sci-Hub is not a legal alternative, that is an issue. There are legal ways to get papers without subscription for a reasonable price (inter-library loans), but they take more time and effort.
Depends on where you live. In my country it is perfectly legal for scientific or teaching purposes. And any article with a Belgian author has to be freely available by law max 3-6 months after publication (depending on the field).
It can be argued that reading scientific articles is a basic human right, see art. 27 of the UN declaration: "Everyone has the right freely [..] to share in scientific advancement and its benefits."
> To advance science and improve human health, NIH makes the peer-reviewed articles it funds publicly available on PubMed Central. The NIH public access policy requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to PubMed Central immediately upon acceptance for publication.
Why this duty is so often neglected escapes me, since:
(1) it's to our great benefit (in a general greater good sense, yes, but here I'm saying it's to someone's great personal benefit) to make your research articles as easily accessible as possible (think: h-index).
(2) It's not like PubMed / PMC is some obscure portal scientists rarely visit. It's where the majority of us begin our lit search. If you are writing a grant / thesis / dissertation it's practically our homepage. Basically I'm saying it's collectively odd behavior that we use PubMed as our primary portal to access research articles, but not bother to ensure our own research articles are easily accessible through this portal.
It is just one criterion among the many criteria that you use for your decision process.
If you get a single cent for your study from tax payers, the tax payers have a right to see the results, with no barriers to access.
The share restraint is usually on the edited version journals provide, which frankly, after working on several published papers, isn't much from my experience. The editors don't really prod the theory, methodology or data -- just grammar and formatting (nice but not critical for the science).
It is notable that these requirements from NSF and NIH have not eliminated many of the complaints about the influence of closed-access journals. Presumably this is because the real issue are the incentives researchers face to publish in such journals regardless of whether they are also publicly available. (Indeed, the vast majority of researchers already have institutional access to closed access journals, and the degree to which non-researchers read research is negligible.)
For some scale: The NIH funds $39B in medical research
The NSF does $7B
Total funding in the US for basic research (which I think includes about $5B from NSF and $15B from NIH) is $86B
Copyright law certainly has major issues, I'll agree, but it does not prevent you from sharing things if you want to, provided you created them or own them.
Fun fact: in many places, you actually can't. You can sign over copyright to someone else, or you can give anyone permission to do whatever, but many legal systems have no concept of "disclaiming copyright". You have it, whether you like it or not. This is why it is frequently advised against putting "I put this code in the public domain" as your open source licensing term. It has no legal meaning in many places, which means that it's not properly licensed at all (i.e. full copyright applies).
I do release everything where I have copyright under free/libre/open terms. But that's not enough to cover the concerns I'm referring to.
I'm saying copyright should be eliminated because it's in the public interest to have more open access (both plainly and for derivative use) to all resrouces
If you give your car away to someone else, why would you be mad that you can't just use it at random times?
The authors have had the solution in front of them from the beginning. They've been free to send out free copies from the time they finish.
But if they want the advantages that come from journals, well, someone is going to need to pay for them.
So let us create a website that for a given paywalled URL automatically emails the authors for a PDF. ;-)
Who's going to pay for the layout and editing and filtering? The people at Elsevier do something for their money.
I'm happy with going to all author-circulated preprints, but I'm afraid that all of the archival work of the journals is a pretty good thing.
I'd gladly pay a one-time fee for a good editor to bring a paper into a better shape, to cover these costs.
Coordination and archiving are valuable, but don't match the prices asked by some.
Today it's almost 100% about the prestige/brand recognition of the journals which they still control.
Journal prestige still matters because: (i) it's a way people can quickly determine the value of a paper (i.e. without reading it); and (ii) "where" you publish has direct impact on researchers careers, funding, etc.
The only way out is for the research community to start using other means of ranking papers and assessing the impact of research in a way that doesn't depend on which journal it got published.
Yes, yes, I know, publish or perish, prestige, impact factor, yada-yada. I’ve just imagined for a second what it would be like if the rhetoric and activism of left-leaning staff on campus that is talked about so much were directed at fighting unequal access to knowledge. It sounded so good in my head; the rhetorical techniques fit so beautifully.
If you have the option to publish in Nature or Science, you have to take it. Or you will stunt or kill your career.
That’s because it is currently your own decision as an individual. But if the left mobilized their forces to shame those who publish in these journals like they shamed, oh, I don't know, Niall Ferguson for having an "all-male history conference” — oh how the arithmetic will change :-)
Color me naive, I thought research was about doing cool science, no?
Citation-based scientific success is deeply wrong, and you'all know it. The whole "we don't have a choice but to play that game to get funding" doesn't make it any more right.
It also looks like none of the answer stopped for a second to reflect on how broken a system relying on citations controlled by the elsevier of this world is.
The quality of the science should speak for itself. How much research gets cited should be a consequence of that quality period. The feedback loop is counter-productive, and worse, easy to game or take advantage of.
In my opinion, it's these incentives that are the problem. The main reason researchers keep going for the same paywalled (or high publishing fee-) journals is because they need to list the stamp of approval of its brand name on their CV. Fewer readers makes that brand name less valuable.
That said, I don't think that will be enough. The world needs to transition to another way of evaluating research that does not depend on where they publish.
(Disclosure: I'm working on such a system . You can help by installing the extension !)
Sadly, this is much less important to researchers than the name of the journal that they publish in.
Maybe it's their stellar peer-review processes? Maybe not.
Maybe the brand value of their flagship journals? That could be the explanation.
Here on HN, people are on the lookout for businesses vulnerable to disruption because they rest on their laurels rather than their innovation. Elsevier looks like that kind of business. Opportunity for sci-hub and other innovators!
... this doesn't seem sustainable
That is, what's to stop someone from publishing in a "top" journal to bolster their career, then re-publishing the same thing in an open access journal?
Wow, I had no idea so many research papers were published by Elsevier alone.
Does that mean that most research goes unread? How does that affect researches and science in general?
Presumably the community would like that. Throw some money at it & start a government backed free one.
Fortunately things are changing. Most people in the machine learning community posts their papers directly on arxiv.org.
What about free education and knowledge?
What about culture?
Those things shouldn't be exclusive to people with enough money. We talk about common goods here and especially education and knowledge have to be free as they potentially facilitate a positive development of mankind.
It's unbearable that still parasites like these are gaining wealth without adding real value to their customers as well as humanity itself.