I have had to publish in journals that are not open access -- mostly I just make pre-prints available to anyone who wants them and encourage my students to use sci-hub if they need to find something we don't subscribe to.
Do you ever use https://oapolicy.universityofcalifornia.edu/ ? (it's only open to senate faculty right now, be we are rolling it out for all ~240k UC employees)
Also related https://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu
(disclosure, I'm the nominal tech lead for these)
I also posted the PDF on my personal website immediately, on the theory that they are probably not going to sue me personally over my own paper. Not impossible, but I haven't gotten a C&D.
Are emails not considered communications "in writing"?
It would seem that the author personally received the email and replied with an attachment as a "professional courtesy", while completely automating the process in the background.
[paper-request] bacterial population analysis under exposure to fox news
And it would respond with the proper paper or papers attached.
Why is that?
You know, those journals don't actually do that great a job...
There can be only one reasonable explanation how such a strong disequilibrium has been kept in status quo. Money is flowing to the right hands. Which, like it or not, is the definition of corruption.
What I've seen actually happen is much pettier; without going into a ton of detail, it's full of perverse incentives and typical sloppy human psychology, even by exceptionally brilliant and otherwise admirable people. Academic communities also tend to be structurally very conservative and decentralized - thousands of tiny feudal lords working in loose collectives, aided by tens of thousands of low-paid apprentices. Organized change-from-within can be exceptionally difficult in this environment, especially since the apprentices are merely temporary workers, but also very smart and ambitious people who are difficult to replace quickly.
I'm basically paraphrasing the words of many more senior and successful former colleagues here, usually spoken in tones of despair or disgust. I suspect most would be happy if Congress simply passed a law forcing liberal OA policies for everything that federal money touches, because that's the money that really matters. So unfortunately we circle back to corruption, as the term normally applies to US politics: some rich person needs to start a crusade and spend millions of dollars competing with the publishing lobby. Everyone, right or left, should want their tax dollars to be spent more effectively than this.
I would love to throw out the entire system and start from scratch (this is not an uncommon sentiment, especially among ex-academics who moved to industry), but the only way this happens is if the major funding agencies impose these decisions from the top down. And that is indeed how the most progress has been made, thanks to the NIH, HHMI, and so on.
Do you have no academics in your academic hiring committee?
EDIT: just to be clear, the hiring committees I'm talking about tend to be nearly 100% academics (at least the ones I've seen). University faculty don't let the bean counters make important decisions like this.
Not awful, but certainly not top tier
My boss would prefer to hold a project for six months and add significance versus publishing in something <4
(My personal policy has been to avoid submitting to closed-access venues, but accept it if my coauthors needed it. However, I don't do reviews for these venues.)
In statements of the form "if you want to get x, you have to do y", when y is something morally repugnant, then that should lead to questioning whether filling your want for x is the only way to be happy.
I recently had a commenter disagree over my criticism of a company that locked in their customers and then gouged them. The commenter said something along the lines of "well, the people wanted to make more money, so it's OK that they did what they did" (where what they did happened to be very bad for users). No, it's not OK. A personal desire for some end does not make any means whatsoever OK.
But I'm making a general statement there, not criticizing you. I realize this is simply how it's done now in academia, and if you're embedded in that, you mostly get a pass for the time being, but I do admire those who stand up and work against it.
A long story short: The ferengi alliance hired countless mercenaries and defeated the borg. Today you cant even send an sms message or distribute a text document without paying tribute to the grand nagus one way or another.
Not sure whether I should be happy or not, but such is life
Anyway, if my parsing is correct, this poster laments the way that academic publishing was subverted away from doing something unique and covering new ground through actually making substantial scientific breakthroughs in favor of higher visibility and accessibility where the metrics of having published something to be quoted by others became more important than publishing a truly revolutionary piece.
This is paralleled by the shift in attitude w.r.t. programming languages. In the days of computing yore, the emphasis was around trying to wrangle the machine into doing what you wanted it to do, and you stayed as close to the metal while doing as possible to keep it fast, because you had to squeeze as much out of what you had as possible. You were comfortable with the software/hardware boundaries being present because that's what it took. As languages developed however, much of the "skill" at the time was chipped away at in the name of abstraction, modularity(many functions getting implemented as libraries), and linguistic/runtime hand holding by things like garbage collecting VM's. This overhead allowed more accessibility in terms of the initial knowledge and kill barrier to entry to be significantly lowered, as the challenge and prestige of wrestling with the machine to get things done performantly slowly gave way to maintaining an encyclopedic knowledge of libraries and frameworks that can be kludge together to give a roughly working facsimile of the desired system. Programming therefore degenerated from somewhat harder scientific endeavor to make breakthroughs in fully utilizing more performant hardware to the max with highly optimized and performant code, to using increased hardware performance as a buffer to allow sloppier, easier to think about abstractions to do the lifting, making software development a glorified popularity contest where frameworks of the week competed for more programmer mindshare for the sake of competing rather than actually doing something in and of themselves. This had the end goal of making terrible (in terms of minimal footprint to run) software easier to write, and easier to hire people to work with.
That's what the poster seems to mean by "the Ferengi hired tons of mercenaries and defeated the Borg." The Borg being the 13 year old purist, the Ferengi being those that wanted terrible software that did well enough.
Shift this back to academia, and you see the same dynamic. Academics are pushed to publish or perish, so the actual quality of scientific breakthrough has nose dived in favor of throwing as many results out there to be added to someone else's mindshare as possible. The entire network and incentive structure behind it being fiscally motivated by the interest of the closed access journals.
Damn. Not the most straightforwardly worded, but I can see where this guy is coming from.
That said, I didn't mean to hate on academia. I just wanted to describe what creating a field looks like. They made a lot of effort and had the best of intentions but end of the day they all had to earn a living working for the man. That is the real issue and it lives outside academia for the most part. I also think of academia as the archivers of knowledge. They never take that as a compliment but it really is.
I attempted to illustrate the different mind set [be it poorly]. Academics are respectful by default. 13 year olds are the exact opposite.
To try a thought experiment: Imagine releasing software after you've insulted every programmer you know and made fun of every last bit of code they wrote. To put it mildly: You might want to have another look at your creation. You might want to do that every day for the next 2 weeks. You might want to scrap that feature if you cant sign of on it as the closest thing to perfection humanly possible.
I think Elsevier is least of UCs problems. It's a distraction from the real ones.
Elsevier may be only one of many problems for the UC community, but that doesn’t mean it’s a distraction—- millions have been wasted every year subsidizing their profits. And Elsevier’s rent seeking business model is a problem for more than just the UCs. Hopefully this decision will end up being Elsevier’s death knell.
Elsevier’s model is being disrupted and there is no going back.
There’s stuff that requires IRB, then there’s a whole bunch of judgement and risk.
Those seeking to use government-owned technology found a maze of rules and regulations set out by the agencies in question because there was no uniform federal policy on patents for government-sponsored inventions or on the transfer of technology from the government to the private sector.
Not saying I understand the complexities but an outright repeal doesn't seem like it would address this underlying systemic problem. Maybe times have changed.
This is what happened to audio codecs for years for example, several alternatives are superior to MPEG Audio Layer III (today you should use Opus), but the MP3 patent holders could expect their revenue to keep flowing for their inferior alternative anyway.
A certain kind of person really wants a patent, the same way someone might really want to win themselves a Hugo. I guess employer can think of it as a relatively expensive employee retention benefit, OK, we'll pay for your useless patent filing and we'll get you a laminated front page you can pin up in your cubicle. Go you.
Innovation is about money, not ideals. More money flowing into research universities is a good thing.
I would wager most grants given by the federal government go to universities or non-profits, so it seems like it would make perfect sense to make them release their research publicly.
This seems like a self-defeating move on Elsevier's part?
Incidentally, I heard from someone who worked at Elsevier around four years ago that the working environment there was terrible, and she couldn't wait to leave. That doesn't seem surprising.
Plenty of people already do.
It's much easier to use than any kind of library proxy service if you're not on campus, and it's also far more reliable. Even if you have access, sci-hub often has things that the library doesn't.
But of course, if it turns out that access is not that necessary anyway, people will stop paying too. But well, that's the risk if you're not adding that much value. And by now, Elsevier has seen this coming long enough that they've hedged their bets well enough not to be reliant on journal subscriptions alone any more. In fact, I'm sure they'll have considered the past few years in which subscriptions hadn't yet massively been cancelled as being a windfall.
As for the new issues: I believe there's a standing recommendation to look for preprints or ask the authors for a copy.
For new issues, I'm confident people will manage; as you say, preprints have taken root in many more disciplines, and there are plenty of alternatives - legal ones, like inter-library loan, and Sci-Hub.
Dinosaurs die hard.
We always have choice.
Passing the buck and saying “I believe what I’m doing is wrong, but until there’s a policy that prevents everybody else from doing it too, I won’t change” is just lazy.
> The plan requires scientists and researchers who benefit from state-funded research organisations and institutions to publish their work in open repositories or in journals that are available to all by 2021. The "S" stands for "shock".
The plan is backed by a wide range of European groups.
Elsevier may have a right to license its content as it sees fit, but the market as turned against its business model. The company now must decide whether to go down fighting or acknowledge the inevitable.
An of course, there's the ever present Sci-Hub, which presents a comprehensive selection of research papers far better than Elsevier ever did - and at no cost to the reader.
Elsevier doesn't have content of it's own. It takes others' content (without paying them a dime in most - if not all - cases), maybe runs it through spellcheck, slaps a legal threat and price tag on it, and milks it for as much protection money as it can. Elsevier is the very model of modern major copyright troll.
I have zero sympathy for them. As they say on Wall Street, "Bulls make money, bears make money. But pigs get slaughtered." They've had 20 years to find new ways to deliver value and it doesn't seem like they've bothered. At this rate they'll be out of business soon, and I'll enjoy it thoroughly.
Elsevier could have started by extorting smaller, less powerful institutions but foolishly went after a university they need more than it needs them.
Researchers and their institutions don’t benefit from the copyright protection; they barely make any money from their work.
Sure, someone can take your work and claim it as their own, but we already handle them as plagiarism rather than copyright infringement.
Currently all the works by the federal government are not subject to copyright, and many are scholarly work by NASA, Congressional Research Service, etc, and we never hear problem about it.
It is also not that far fetched. Copyright protects expression of ideas rather than ideas themselves, and I would argue for most papers, the expression is the less interesting part of it.
It'll probably fade away for the most part once a new generation that is comfortable with the dematerialization of value takes high leadership positions.
Copyright is a bit of a different beast as it covers a specific work, not an "idea."
Google really tried to do this but stopped digitizing books halfway through the worlds collection because of copyright law. It hurts to think of all the knowledge we could have shared if this had been permitted.
Getting rid of copyright and instituting a copy-anarchy would mean that creatives would have no real incentive to publish (no matter how much you do for passion, you still need to keep the lights on and put food on the table) - but our current system, with lifetimes tied to the time since Walt Disney's death, is a bit of a mess too.
Can there ever be a happy medium?
Short terms (15yr?) for unregistered or "implicit" copyright, renewable with registration and fees that increase year-over-year.
- free health care for all
- universal basic income at a really basic subsidence level
- voluntary patronage
People define themselves by their art if they can live a reasonable life and produce they will do it.
The issue is not whether people should be able to profit off their own work but whether a rent-seeking gatekeeper should be able to hijack others' work and profit off it.
I specifically stated the sustenance level basic income plus patronage as I expect people must have enough to survive but ought to be incentivized to earn enough to live better.
I've heard others, not you, express the nonsensical idea that if people had enough to barely survive they would all quite providing value to society until the whole pyramid balanced precariously on the backs of the few remaining working people collapsed. This is a basic mis-analysis of human nature. People would strive to produce both for reasons of self worth and desire for a better than basic life.
I expect many to most writers with no readers and no earnings would eventually tire of the affair and move on to others.
Others would find a way to live a better than subsidence level life via patronage or doing other work to finance their hobby.
Do you really believe in a world without copyright that Stephen king wouldn't find any supporters?
The idea being to allocate to each citizen an equal share, for equal voting power, and equal right to dividends.
1) Much of what I advocate for is based on how many human societies have operated for millennia. Collective management on the tribal level seems pretty common historically.
2) Some innovation is possible. Our society every day does things we didn’t do for thousands of years. Technology definitely changes this, but for example we didn’t do very large representative democracies until recently. It stands that there still exist some unpopular ideas that would work better that what we have today.
While that is true, would those books have been written without copyright protection? If you eliminate copyright laws today, will we see more or less (quality) books in the future?
But without patents, and with today's reverse engineering, most things would be reduced to cheap chinese clones.
Yet it's not the case, in many fields.
So I see all the businessss that would die without IP protection as maybe only existing because of our historical legal structure. Perhaps without IP laws the boundaries of who does what work would change but we would still strive to create new things just as we always have. Does that make sense?
I'm pretty communist in my thinking, rail hard against established IPR structures, but most of it would be sensible IMO if the balance were shifted back toward the demos.
Things have been allowed to slip away from the IP deals such that the demos no longer get their part of the contract -- eg as established the deal with copyright requires deposit of copies in to pubic libraries (so they fall in to public ownership in a timely manner), DRM breaks the contract at the creator/business end and so such works should not get copyright protection, simple as that.
If I also make Nike products then they lose the ability to identify by branding alone that marked goods are endorsed by them.
IMO trademark should have a requirement to identify the factory in which a good was made (eg on the label or packaging). That extends the ability for consumers to compare the _true_ origin of goods in way that gives usable information. Capitalism only optimises resources if consumers have perfect information ... so in theory a goal of capitalist government should be provision of as much useful information as possible.
An example of how that would be useful would be if I buy supermarket Weetabix, that uses the trademark shape, if they're from the same factory then they're probably the same product (not necessarily) so I can just buy the cheaper product.
Do you have any reference/proof for that? At least the part about slowing innovation?
My solution at the moment: Publish only in conferences that don't require you to transfer copyright so I can distribute my paper open access without paying anything. Yes, the peer review, if there is any, is less rigorous, but my experience suggests that peer review typically offers only shallow critiques of my work. Peer review doesn't need to work that way, but that's how it is in practice at the moment. I think review is valuable, but this makes getting good reviews my responsibility, not a publishing venue's.
This solution also precludes me from working in most tenure-track academic positions, but I believe those positions are a bad deal anyway, so I'm not too worried. Government research positions seem usually okay with publishing mainly in conferences.
If there are any other issues with this scheme, I'm interested in hearing about them.
I'm against subsidizing open access publication as that seems to basically be a subsidy for publishers and not researchers. That would maintain the absurdly high open access feeds. Instead, let's make the journals compete on price, and they'll have to compete against free (e.g., Arxiv), so hopefully this would drive the prices down to a reasonable level. I'm fine with paying publishers if they actually provide a service commensurate with what they charge. The issue is that they don't right now.
Cartels are pretty good at negotiating. Fuck off or bend over.
The easiest solution is just have scientists publish in open-access journals. Easy right? Nope, they are judged by the impact of their papers and it's higher in better quality journals.
That's the value these journals offer - exclusivity.
Scientists and universities could solve this issue immediately. Scientists publish in open-access journals and universities stop judging based on the journals "impact factor". However, neither one wants to do that.
You’re also opening the door to unintended consequences - are scientific textbooks not copyrightable also? If not, why not?
Even if you don't retain the copyright to the camera-ready version of your paper, you can just redistribute a preprint version that is almost identical (on arXiv and/or your website).
(Disclaimer: I'm part of a project that aims to provide an alternative measure of quality.)
> Elsevier says its proposal would have allowed a fivefold increase in the number of UC articles it published under open access — from about 350 now to 1,750 — while increasing the overall bill to UC by no more than annual inflation
One of these two parties is clearly misrepresenting this cost increase.
https://editoria.pub is a project we were involved with with UC Press
We run an OJS instance for our journal program. We are looking a Janeway too.
Manifold also looks interesting in this space.
We're also encouraged by a handful of communities that are experimenting with new formats of pre-publication review and training such as: Collective Wisdom, EFPT Psychotherapy Guidebook, and Data Feminism.
At a more meta-level, the challenge here is that this ecosystem is overwhelmingly complex. The business-models, culture, and technical infrastructure are all unhealthy and self-reinforcing. There's no single platform that can fix this - it needs a political campaign in parallel with a social movement in parallel with some really good tech infrastructure. The US healthcare challenge is a good parallel in a lot of ways. Both are going to need new economic and governance models. At the risk of straying too far from the original question, PubPub's parent - the Knowledge Futures Group - is working to push on all of these fronts. Feel free to reach out if this is the kind of thing you care about!
1. It costs money to submit to Nature, Cell, Science, etc
2. Reviewers for journals are not paid
3. It then costs money to read the published papers
4. The journals are filled with ads
Literally the entire thing is profit for Elsevier, they are paid by the people who do the original work, they don't pay for any of the vetting and review that Elsevier claims you're paying for, and then you have to pay to read the published papers. And get through all of the ads.
Elsevier is a company that steals from the public.
Nowadays, publishers still put out paper versions, but their worth does indeed revolve around scientist giving them material for them to build a catalogue of copyrighted material.
I look forward to their fall.
Couldn’t the PDF’s be hosted in the open, in a repository similar to arXiv, and then be “published”. Being published would then just basically mean that your paper gets tagged in the repository as “Published in Journal of X”, almost like a Twitter verification mark but more granular .
Some publishing fees would remain, and pay for the curation and costs associated with the peer review.
: Of course the journal could still be compiled and published separately as well.
More here: https://medium.com/flockademic/the-ridiculous-number-that-ca...
Academics are one of the few groups that can afford to be idealists.
One thing Elsevier builds their strategy on is bundling: that to get the journals a university really wants, they also have to subscribe to lots they don’t want. This would mean for Elsevier that they could keep charging high prices until all disciplines don’t care about them. A university can’t say “well all our mathematicians just use the arxiv and email so we don’t want any mathematics journals” and have this work.
Another common theme is universities joining together into larger groups to negotiate a deal together. But this means individual universities can’t really choose to not subscribe to any Elsevier journals (because others in the group want to subscribe), so often they still get what many inside consider a bad deal.
Similar things have happened in a few other European countries.
Academia is an elite, powerful, and privileged institution. Of course it is not a monolithic institution, but a conglomeration of many individual institutions that share a common culture. Any cultural entity like this is going to attract deserved and undeserved criticism.
Any powerful cultural institution like this will fall into corruption (literally rotteness), again like every other big cultural institution. This is a charge that has been leveled against academia since universities first arose in the late middle ages. The chancellor of my university at my time went to prison for misappropriation of funds. Currently (and for years now) my alma mater (a public university) spends some amount of its resources on what some people might consider frivilous make-work (i.e. unneccesary jobs creation) while raising tuition as part of the general runaway education inflation, which is far higher that the core inflation rate. (No citation. I'll trust most readers will grant this asseertion.)
As part of the culture, academia is strongly associated with some political trends, and the status quo, and strongly opposed to others. Of course not everyone is going to like that fit.
At the highest levels elite academia is strongly associated with elite government, media, business, etc.
Professors are generally people who like to talk and tell stories. This rubs some people the wrong way, and not all professors are as smart and as good story tellers as Feynman, for instance.
Just some of the things that might trigger some people.
In my case it's related to the continual drumbeat of news stories that seems to show them being transformed from bastions of free inquiry into centers of political indoctrination. It's been reinforced in the last couple of years by a friend who sent his sweet, friendly, apolitical hard working daughter to a liberal arts college, and she returned as a politicized tattooed pierced foul mouthed social warrior who despises her family and home community. While that anecdote has applied for generations it seems to have become more rule than exception. There are an increasing number of parents who feel that sending their kids to college amounts to parental malpractice.
This "chip" may sound like a form of bigotry in that it paints many remaining fine scholars with the same broad brush, but you can't enroll in just that part of a school.
While the STEM fields that most publish in Elsevier are less affected by this trend they seem to be moving in that direction. Simply researching human intelligence, sexual dimorphism, heritability or a constantly shifting range of other topics has become career threatening. The idea that merit should play a predominant role in hiring is becoming scarce in faculty hiring committees.
I'm a product of a university but looking back I see that my degree did little for me in terms of either increased human capital or of signalling, in that I learned to code outside of class and my degree is of ever less value in getting hired. If I could go back and whisper in my high school ears while I was applying to college I might say "skip it". And that's separate from the ideological angle.
Meanwhile it has become much more expensive in the era of federal financing. Both sides of the cost benefit ratio are moving in the wrong direction.
The net result is that I've come to discount the value of universities. If they were all closed tomorrow it would be both a great loss and gain, and I'm not sure which would dominate.
I went to a rather liberal university recently and while the community and ideology you describe did exist, it always seemed to be on the fringe a bit (if very loud). For the most part, people were focused on working hard at school or sex and partying rather than engaging in fringe politics.
Some young people need to rebel for a bit. People's views usually moderate a bit a few years out, just with life experience.
For a recent example of this leaning the other direction, there is author T.J. Martinson being fired -- before he could begin teaching, from Olivet Nazarene University, over the contents of a book written outside his proffesorial duties, for including swearing, a lesbian protagonist, and a character choosing hope over prayer:
For a more substantive instance, there are the Lewis Powell memorandum and cooption of many university programmes (particularly economics departments) by right-wing libertarian ideologues:
College may simply be an expensive interview prefilter, in many cases.
It is exclusionary for many.
If I don't like academia, it's from my experience in academia. Doing good research won't guarantee you a position. On the contrary, what seems to matter is bringing in a lot of money via grants and publishing tons of papers in recognized journals. This better be done steadily too. I know one guy who didn't get tenure at my university, likely because he had a year or two without any publications. Personally, I think a year or two without publications might be necessary for some longer-term projects. So the system has a short-term bias built in too.
You can be a jerk to your students and thrive in this system. (I'm sure other grad students and former grad students can think of copious examples.)
This seems to be because most people, even other researchers, can't evaluate the quality of work in other fields. I'd go farther than that and say that most researchers don't even know what good quality work should look like in their own fields. So instead they look for proxies like the sheer number of papers published, amount of money brought in, impact factor of the journals published in, how a researcher follows trends, etc. But these are weak proxies at best, maybe even anti-correlated with good research.
I'm sure that tenure track positions are great once you have tenure, but it's a lottery at best, and I think the processes of getting a PhD and tenure select for people who are unlikely to take risks, or teach them to avoid riskier research. So if you have tenure, you're less likely to do the sort of bold research I think is so valuable. I would hesitate to call most research even "incremental" as most researchers do a shallow review of their field, so they can't really build on anything. More like "spinning your wheels". If I became a professor and got tenure I'd probably never advance from associate to full professor, as I'd immediately switch my research strategy from "safe" research before tenure to higher impact research after tenure.
Doing good work in industry doesn't, either. Depending where you work, you still need to play all the same bullshit political games.
The difference is, you can leave an abusive job/boss with a lot less friction then you can leave an abusive graduate/post-graduate program/advisor.
Academia wants to do research - and not pay minimum wage (not even to Tenured Full Professors - ask them how much they make from their grant during the months they are paid). Professors have figured out how to screw PhD students, and their own peers, thanks to competition.
If you look at any PhD student in a stream/major that has a value proposition, chances are - the student is imported. And in these streams (which matter?), research is value-less. Because there is no incentive to do any valuable work. Unfortunately, universities get lucky still - once in a while. Thankfully, this is beginning to end. Perhaps someone can quantitatively study this.
Interesting times - But first - in the US - health care needs a reboot ;-)
Couple that with a disdain that some technocrats have for unquantifiable, soft social sciences, or the politics shared by most people studying them.
Now, couple that with the various well-documented, objective problems that academia has.
Shake it with ice, and you get the comments that you are calling out.
I went to a bootcamp and it doesn't seem to be holding me back too much. Still moving up the ranks in FANG just like everyone else. I don't feel academically inferior to my colleagues, most of them have gradually forgotten most of what they learned in college anyway. And teaching yourself computer science is challenging but it can be done.
(Incidentally I do have a degree, but I didn't study CS.)
After 10 years experience gained in the field would vastly surpass any differences in fundamentals in my experience.
Yes and no.
If your colleagues are Peter Norvig and Richard Gabriel and you are programming editors and compilers, then you will probably get a Masters (and more useful than most) in CS simply by talking to them on a daily basis and coding your ass off inside a codebase that they're working on, too.
The problem is that very few companies have people that good or problems that challenging. If you go to work for an insurance company after a bootcamp, are you going to learn how to build a compiler? (And, call that esoteric and scoff if you will, but I have built a "compiler" several times in my career because it was the best way to transition from a legacy system.)
Now, to be fair, maybe nobody cares. If you're rewriting a CRUD app for the umpteenth time in "YetAnotherFrameworkItsBetterThisTimeWePromiseHaHaHa", then it's not going to matter. Knowledge about the current system and all its tendrils is far more valuable than pedantic graph theory.
However, that's local system knowledge and has no value outside your current company. The only knowledge that has value to your next employer is domain knowledge--at that includes your baseline CS and programming skill.
First, PLoS fees are lower and as a nonprofit only have to support operation (no profit). Also as a nonprofit there is some transparency as to where those fees go, so I assume that publishing there really does cost something like $1600.
Second PLoS's fee rules include the sentence "Authors' ability to pay publication fees will never be a consideration in the decision whether to publish."
Elsevier's "unfair advantage" (something we're supposed to look for on HN) or IP is their ownership of journals that acquired renown over decades. Publication in those journals as opposed to others has, depending on your field, tremendous effect on tenure and grant opportunities. It takes a long time to transfer that repetitional benefit to other institutions like PLoS.
That's why physics (with a more fluid tradition of journal bona fides and a wider use of preprints and passing papers around) was the pioneer field for open access and the like while, say, medicinal chemistry has been a laggard in this area. Doesn't mean the researchers want it that way, but those cultural traditions take a while to change.
If UCB and some other high profile institutions (I'm looking at you, MIT!) can declare a policy away from these journals it will provide cover to allow others to do the same.
You couldn't choose a worse example than that. MIT famously screwed Aaron Swartz legally over public domain (pre-1923) papers, by baselessly claiming that his access had been "unauthorized" when in fact it was entirely consistent with their own pre-existing policies! They are a bad actor in this whole issue and aren't going to do a thing.
infamously is what you mean, particularly considering "screwed (over)" is very much an understatement in regards to the sombre culmination of that legal case. 
Also I guess some (theoretical) physics/math papers kind of stand on their own. If you proved the Poincaré conjecture, it doesn't matter if you post it in Science or on your WordPress blog: anyone in the field can verify the correctness of your work. Contrast with life science where reproducing work is hard and bona fides count for much more.
There's no inherent reason a non-profit can't provide those bona fides just as well, though. I also hope institutions do the right thing here.
You mean the Web? For the Internet, no they didn't. It was created by a US military organization.
It's not hard for me to imagine that a professional high-quality academic hosting service costs something like what PLoS charges. Their budget is probably publicly auditable. I work in enterprise software, though, so I've become kind of inured to seemingly absurd costs for technical solutions.
I used to work in academia, where I became inured to PIs spending crazy amounts (millions per year) on equipment and lab services, which makes me think $1600 for a publication really isn't that big a deal for most developed-world STEM labs. Although I'd rather they spend it on making post-doc salaries livable.
If Elsevier was really providing no value, why don’t scientists simply submit their work elsewhere? Clearly scientists and universities don’t really care about open access. If it was that important to them, they would just stop submitting content to non-open-access journals. The truth is that scientists care more about prestige than about open access. Elsevier puts a lot of work into making their journals prestigious, and scientists want that.
In actual fact, Elsevier is a gatekeeper to obtaining funding and making a living in research. Elsevier is rent-collecting, not selling an intangible feeling.
(N.b. I am no fan of Elsevier, just trying to figure out how their power can be unwound)
Assuming Elsevier is killed off, someone else will have to put in the work of sifting good from bad. And that's not an easy problem, especially when many try to pervert the process for ideological gain.
All of this work is performed by unpaid reviewers, not by Elsevier themselves.
(Disclaimer: I'm part of a project that tries to sift the good from bad without those things.)
Got it in one! And until that changes, the status quo remains - regardless of sites like schihub
Elsevier didn't create the high-prestige journals. They were originally published by universities and not-for-profit academic societies. And became prestigious over time, in one way or another.
Elsevier just bought them, and has been raising prices and bleeding them out.
The problem is coordination: everyone would like to stop, there would be a huge collective benefit if everyone stopped, but the first ones who stop will be penalized, so no one wants to be among the first.
> Elsevier puts a lot of work into making their journals prestigious
This gives the impression that the journals are prestigious thanks to Elsevier. In fact, what makes the journals prestigious is the hard work of paper authors and reviewers over the last decades, none of which were paid by Elsevier.
If a customer is unable or unwilling to pay the prevailing rate, then no access will be granted.
The argument that Elsevier uses unpaid academic labor and therefore should fall under some other system is a red herring. Authors signed over their copyright to Elsevier, and like any other copyright holder Elsevier can license its property toward any legal purpose that advances its business interests.
This isn't about copyright, because original authors are forced to pay-to-play.
In a genuine copyright market, creators are paid in exchange for exploitation of copyright.
If they have to pay up to sign over their rights, that's not a copyright issue - that's extortion.
I have two counter arguments here:
1. Funding agencies should not permit this. If I were to fund public research, the results should be public under an appropriate license.
2. Something is very wrong with the system if authors are willing to do this without being paid. If Elsevier paid the author $3k, that would be another story. (And possibly unethical.)
And more and more are they doing that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_S
Unfortunately, the US is still not on board - that would make a major difference.
Sure, but access can still be obtained. For free. So they can sod off.
Edit: Elsevier and the like are predatory scum. They bought top academic journals, and have increased prices dramatically in recent decades. They're bleeding out the industry, as they ride it down to irrelevance. Just as some have done with the newspaper industry.
I don’t really think it works, and the publication fees model might already be a good enough counter-argument, but it’s my best try.
On the other hand, there are open access journals that essentially act as a layer above arXiv, so that the main added value is review.
Once you’ve read enough papers, you don’t even have to invoke the replication crisis to see that most papers should be taken with a grain of salt.
Whereas basic science is almost entirely tax funded, making a pretty good case for it being a public resource.