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ACM signed letter opposing open access (publishers.org)
265 points by beefhash 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 138 comments



I've said this before on other threads but frankly, scientific publishers represent institutionalised theft of tax payer money:

- Academics (most often publicly funded via grants and university salaries) do the work for free.

- They are expected to learn to use LaTeX and to typeset their work for free.

- They are expected to copy-edit the papers for free, or else pay a copy editor themselves with, you guessed it, public funds.

- Volunteer Academics (on university time and therefore, again, public money) are expected to review the work for technical accuracy and novelty. If done well this is extremely time consuming.

- Finally, the Journals have the temerity to charge the same universities who produce their product millions of pounds a year in journal subscriptions and Open Access fees.

- Finally finally, none of the Authors are ever paid for their work. Not that it matters, because again: public funding should mean public access.

The most frustrating part is that Academics themselves are locked into this system by the career prospects conferred by prestigious journals/conferences.

I like to hope the ACM and other signatories will face a backlash for this. But they most likely wont


I'm a humanities scholar, and I have given talks where I basically hit every single point you make (we tend not to typeset our own work, and we create more book-length monographs, but aside from that . . .). I consider the situation to be essentially obscene, and so I make various arguments about open access, universities as "self publishers" of their own faculty's work, and point out that absolutely none of this requires abandoning peer review.

Honestly? You would think I had suggested that we close the doors of the university. I'm not about to let Elsevier or Pearson off the hook, but we (members of the ACM, the AHA, the MLA, etc.) are our own worst enemy when it comes to the existing model. I am constantly astonished at the way my colleagues' defend this abusive system. Though "defend" might be too strong a word for what is actually nothing more than an incoherent mixture of elitism and the belief that we have always done things a certain way because that way is certainly right.


Does anyone have any insight as to how this happened? Somehow the publishers have attained monopoly-level profits. Apparently they keep raising the prices and the customers can't do anything about it?

I'm not surprised that academics would write, typeset, copy-edit, or review the papers themselves.

I AM surprised that all the university administrators (of which there are "too many"?) don't push back at paying tens of thousands of dollars for the journals. I have heard some complaints, but they are apparently ineffective.

So I guess the journals have developed local monopolies over medicine, computer science, etc.?

Is it really just the "brand"? arXiV isn't as strong a brand as Elsevier or whatever?

-----

One thing I've noticed in academia is that brand and name recognition actually matter more than in engineering. In engineering, you can tell if it works or not. You can test it yourself.

In academia, there are only 3 other people in a subfield of a subfield who can tell if it's good. You can't tell yourself. It might take 10 years to sort out of the work is important / good.

So you have to rely on the brand. Popular brands being "this research is from Harvard for field X", or Stanford for field Y, etc.

So I guess "published in journal X" rather than "published in arXiV" is another brand. But somehow they have offloaded all the work that goes into maintaining the brand back onto the academics. Crazy.


> Does anyone have any insight as to how this happened? Somehow the publishers have attained monopoly-level profits. Apparently they keep raising the prices and the customers can't do anything about it?

This happens because of historical lock-in. When you get evaluated as a researcher, the most important part of your curriculum are your publications. There are two things that matter about them:

1. Where are they published. There are rankings (done by the publishers) of the publications in each scientific area. For really important stuff, only papers published in Q1 (quartile one) publications matter.

2. How many citations they've got. Since there's so many garbage, people tend to cite other papers from well-known publications (nobody is going to question a claim you cite from a paper in a well-established journal, whereas if you cite a paper from a random unknown journal you'll have a harder time passing review).

As you can see, the path of least resistance to advance your own career as a researcher is to publish in the journals by the famous publishers. This also means they get the best papers, and the whole thing perpetuates itself.

> So I guess "published in journal X" rather than "published in arXiV" is another brand.

There's brand, but there's also process. A paper published in Nature has passed a number of filters and reviews that a paper published in arXiv hasn't. That's not a 100% guarantee (there are garbage papers in Nature and excellent ones in arXiv), but the average quality is much much much better in Nature.


I would add to that: when presenting their work at a conference, presenters must often pay the full price of admission to attend the conference. This can be in the range of one or two thousand dollars. This prevents anyone not associated with an academic institution with grant money at stake or a well-financed business from presenting their results.


I think the expense to speak is probably to prevent a lot of quacks working out of their basement from presenting hokey physics talks.


Instead of the government paying money to publishers for adminstration of peer reviewed publications, the government should directly produce peer reviewed publications as a public benefit. Neither the model of requiring the submitter to pay nor the model of requiring the reader to pay produces good outcomes for the dissemination of scientific discoveries.


Keep in mind that the notion of peer review as a necessary element of academic publishing is itself a highly novel concept, dating to the 1970s.


If your issue is that tax payer money is being stolen then presumably open access should only be granted to citizens of a country, for research arising from academic institutions in that country? Otherwise countries will similarly be stealing tax payer money from one another. Actually, do public libraries get access to Elsevier etc?


The presumption you're making is that a country would never spend money for the public good, where that is defined to include the entire human race, rather than just nationals.

Weird assumption! Generally speaking, academic research is considered to be an international, or super-national, cooperative effort in most fields.


> The presumption you're making is that a country would never spend money for the public good

I have just realized that I assume this to be the case. If a government ever does that is simply a collateral effect of their main purpose which is enrichment of the politicans involved in the process.


I don't make this assumption. I simply think OPs argument that research should be open because tax payers have funded it is weak, for the reason I stated, i.e. it implies that non-tax payers should not have access, or conversely, implies that taxpayers in each country should get to decide how this research is distributed, possibly restricting access to non-nationals.

> The presumption you're making is that a country would never spend money for the public good, where that is defined to include the entire human race, rather than just nationals.

I think in general this is the case? Obviously governments budget for foreign aid, and also contribute to collective efforts e.g. climate change or (relevant to this discussion) EU funds such as Horizon 2020. But I don't think any governments do/should consider "the public" as meaning "the entire human race".


I think in the grand tradition of western government going all the way back to the greeks there is ample consideration given to the good as it pertains to the entire human race, not just nationals.

Read Nussbaum's book about cosmopolitanism - the introductory chapters provide plenty of evidence that historically speaking, elites have conceived of governments has having at least some obligation to all human beings, regardless of state.


1. A->B does not imply !A->!B 2. Government foreign aid is a counterexample


I don't know what's meant to be A and B here. I already listed foreign aid as a counterexample in the post you're replying to.


The fact much research is tax-subsidised is one but not the only argument for open public access to scientific research papers. Other arguments argue for broader access.

And tax-based support alone does not argue for closed access to a single country. There are tax-supported activities which aren't limited to benefiting, strictly, any or all of: taxpayers, citizens, or even residents of countries, among the latter foreign aid and cultural support.

The last of which scientific knowledge is an element.


> open access should only be granted to citizens of a country, for research arising from academic institutions in that country?

Fine with me, then countries can sort it out between themselves. Easy, considering way harder things have been done in international academic efforts.

> Actually, do public libraries get access to Elsevier etc?

No, they don't.


i'm not sure i follow... the GP is basically saying: "its paid for by public money, it shouldn't be restricted"

how do you get from that to "i cant let anyone but people from my country look at this"?

there no logic in that whatsoever


The argument seems to be that access to research should be unrestricted because "scientific publishers represent institutionalised theft of tax payer money", i.e. that theft of tax payer money is bad. In that case, why should people who live in tax havens, low-tax countries, or countries that don't adequately fund academia, have their access to research subsidised by people who live in high tax countries and who fund the research via tax? This seems like the same issue except at a higher level, i.e. sovereign theft instead of institutional?

I have no problem with open access by the way, I'm not advocating for restrictive publishing practices here.


still doesn't make sense because the foreign nations aren't depriving the people paying for the research of the information they paid for via taxes.

theft means that something was taken away from somebody else. this clearly isnt the case in your scenario, as the foreign nations just copied it.


My wife is a scientist who has peer reviewed hundreds of articles. She has never been paid a dime. Worse, she is forced to pirate articles published in the same journals she is publishing in and reviews articles for, because she can't afford them and her University does not pay for them. So when they say: ```Peer-reviewed articles are not free to produce``` they are not lying, they are just forgetting to mention who covers most of that cost, for FREE!


Amazon pulls in thousands of unpaid reviews for any product. Now what do you do? Give all of them the product free?

Lets say 3 in 100 reviews are good. And you want those 3 to come back and review the next product. You are even willing to pay them something. Is there a guarantee that they have interest and will show up, and if they do, is there a guarantee that they produce a useful review of the same standard the second time around?

Thats just one simplified reason about the dynamics of this process, that is going to block everyone from getting things for free.

Its easy to react, to push to dismantle it and you just end up with YouTube style mega mass of comments under every vid where the best comments are guaranteed to get buried unless they pander to the will of the herd.


This is a really weak comparison. Peer-reviews are used as a gating mechanism for papers unlike products on Amazon. Reviewers on Amazon don't have a say on what gets on the list and what gets off.

Additionally, published papers are often cited by other papers and peer-reviews are necessary to prevent a false premise from being propagated through citations unlike products on Amazon.


An Amazon review is not comparable to a review in a scientific journal. In a scientific journal a review is done by experts of the field and they invest a couple of hours / days. Scientists do this because it is part of their job. It is a contribution to the scientific community.


The academic reviews I write take me about one to three days of work. I have to work through a usually densely written paper, maybe read up on some background that I'm not entirely familiar with, develop a good understanding of the content, judge it, find places where the authors might try to hide some downsides of their work (it happens!) etc. Only then can I sit down and write an honest review.


This isn't the best comparison, since journals publish the reviewed articles, not the reviews themselves.

It's more like whether Amazon should pay the people who decide what should be in the Amazon Basics line, which I suspect they do.


Whether they publish the review or not misses the point completely of how they attract qualified reviewers. If you are capable of consistently attracting qualified reviewers and filtering out the masses and doing it for free by all means do it.

But anyone who has tried knows its very hard to do for free. Just ask the mods of HN whether they want to work for free and the costs to them to maintain a standard.


Currency here isn't money though, but reputation (for the researcher and their institutions) and advance of science.

One can imagine a world where high-quality reviewing entities exist and attract top researchers without being profit-driven publishers.


I considered mentioning this, but the way it works is editors ask specific scientists to review articles for them (for free). The editor sends the article (the "product") for them to review, in advance of possible publication.

Sometimes people agree to review articles because they get to see research before everyone else.


Reviewing an amazon article costs 5 minutes. Reviewing a paper costs a day.

Journals extort hundreds of man hours per conference from reviewers. The largest cost of all, research and writing the paper, isn't reimbursed in the slightest and largely covered by tax payers, who then still won't be able to access the results because of paywalls.

The entire business plan of journals is to take research and peer review for free, and then sell it. Back when distribution was costly that may have made sense, but nowadays with the internet the cost of distribution is a fraction of what it used to be.


And anybody can make an amazon review. Very few people have the skills required to peer review a scientific paper.


Cost of distribution maybe free but attracting qualified and useful reviews is definitely not.

People who think open access is the solution to that are dealing with a focusing illusion - https://www.edge.org/response-detail/11984


You seem to repeatedly ignore people claiming that they are doing peer-reviews for free. I guess free facts are not qualified and useful facts ;)


The reviews are by and large free. I've known multiple phd candidates to be given papers by their advisor and they do the initial review for their advisor. Often these are additional reviews asked for by the advisor. That is to say, the advisor is usually not trying to avoid doing work, but they want their students to gain experience reviewing papers. Neither the advisor is paid for their individual reviews or supervised reviews, or is the student compensated in any way.

Amazon reviews are not remotely a good comparison. There is huge incentive in terms of experience gain, getting a bit of a sneak peek at research, and reputation gain(lets be real, its not that uncommon for people to be fairly confident they know who an anonymous reviewer etc is).

I'm not trying to make any point other than to add further disagreement to the idea that these reviews are not currently obtained essentially for free.


Attracting good reviews is the editor's job which is often unpaid too


do companies also give their products for free to amazon to sell?


Reviews are voluntary.

Peer review is not (if you want to keep your career, that is).


I peer reviewed lots of articles when I was a researcher, including for IEEE and ACM publications. Peer reviews, editorial work, authoring articles, etc. are all part of academic life, much of which is publicly funded and benefits society.

I've never heard of anyone getting payed or compensated for peer reviews. This is not a thing. Journal editors probably get payed in some cases but mostly this is a thing that is part of their professional responsibilities as e.g. a university professor and also something that looks good on their CVs and gives them influence and power. Actual labor related to proof reading, typesetting, etc. is uncommon except for some high profile publications. Mostly this work is done by authors themselves. I've dealt with professional proof readers only on two occasions.

Cost related to distribution of scientific work is almost exclusively related to the printing process, which for the past 25 years has technically been completely redundant. As soon as the WWW emerged in the early nineties, scientist started distributing articles in digital form. I know, because this is when I started doing research. I think that over the course of my research career, I've only visited the library twice. Once to get a copy of some journal article by a publisher that just was just super anal about online articles and once to drop off a box of thesis copies (a requirement of the university at the time). Even before Google became a thing, finding articles online was easy.

Considering the ACM is an organization that claims to act in the interest of it's members (i.e. researchers), open access should be a foregone conclusion and completely and utterly uncontroversial. The fact that this is not the case, tells me it is prioritizing other interests and not acting in good faith on behalf of its own members who would be do well to make continued membership conditional on this getting resolved ASAP. Money talks and members walking away would fix this in no time. Online publication is cheap (not free obviously) and should be easily funded from membership fees.


> I've never heard of anyone getting payed or compensated for peer reviews. This is not a thing.

You are paid for it because if you're a paid researcher then it's part of your paid day-to-day job, in your job description.


Right, but those costs are paid by the university and/or the taxpayer (in the case of publicly funded research) - they are not paid by the publishers. The latter effectively treat academics as free labour from which they can profit.


You are not paid by the publisher though, which I think is important. Peer review is essential for publishing, and yet the cost of it is shifted to the universities (and other publicly funded institutions). From the point of view of the publisher it's free labour


And journals are happy to take all that research and review work that is paid for by tax payers, and then put it behind paywalls.


"publishers across America make significant investments, at no cost to taxpayers" is an interesting claim. As I understand it, the majority of journal subscription revenue is from libraries and universities. Are they not taxpayer-funded?

I'd also be interested to know the reasoning behind "this cost shift would place billions of dollars of new and additional burden on taxpayers". Is that because universities will have to organise their own peer review instead of paying for journals to do it for them? Surely, if organising peer review is so valuable, the universities will happily pay for it, and the almighty market (hallowed be its name) will return those billions of dollars to their rightful owners.

Broadly, I think this argument is worth reading with an eye to what it doesn't say, rather than what it does. It's big on lofty appeals to "government intervention in the private market", and fastidious about mentioning the "billions of dollars" that flow through journal publishers, yet mysteriously waffles on the actual value they provide in exchange.


>yet mysteriously waffles on the actual value they provide in exchange

I honestly cannot really think of one. For example, conferences organized by ACM still cost an enormous amount of money to just attend and largely break even by accepting company donations. The grants there are also largely provided by companies.


Yesterday I had to deal with copyright to have a conference paper published by ACM. Open Access was charged 700/900$ based on my membership. The two others options was transferring all the management rights (keep dreaming), or giving them a license that basically allow them to do whatever they want anyway. I took the last option but I was angry: this is basically blackmailing me against my carrer path to get my work for free and make money on it. And I had to do all the bullshit job of dealing with templating, which should be done by the publisher.

Hopefully my personal page is well indexed in Google Scholar when searching for my name, so anyone can get my articles for free.


@tasogare If you are an ACM member, you can use the Authorizer service to enable free access to your papers. The service creates a special link that you can use on two web-sites - for example your institutional web-site and your personal web-site, so that visitors to your web-site, will be redirected to PDF download of your papers.

This effectively allows open-access to your papers, as long as you have a web-site.


I’m not. And after that I don’t plan to be one. From what I understand they "grant" me the rights to publish my preprint paper on my website. Which I planned to do anyway. As a UE citizen living in Asia I would have done so anyway, good luck for them suing me over my own work in a foreign jurisdiction.


The license option is worse than you say: it's an exclusive license, meaning that not only can they do whatever they want, but you can't even do whatever you want anymore (distributing the article, etc.).


Oh ok. I was sure there was shenanigans like that but my speciality is not law. It’s lion’s share clauses all way down.


It looks like the ACM General Elections are coming up, with several officers and various other positions being available:

https://www.acm.org/elections/acm-council/2020-slate

It's likely worth someone contacting each of the nominees to publish info on where they stand on the Open Access issue.

With that, the general ACM members who vote should have a decent ability to affect the ACM's future directions on this issue. :)

That is assuming not 100% of all nominated people are against Open Access. Could be a bad assumption though. :(


Due to ACM protecting American business interests in cases such as this, as a member I give priority to people not from USA and if there is a choice, people not from EU.

Most researchers from USA and EU do not understand that $15 per paper for reader access is way too much, that $99 for professional access is way too much, that SIG groups should not organize events in USA only, and when they organize event they should choose places that well connected to most of the world, and that do not have too strict visa requirements for researchers visits to scientific events.


To be fair to the ACM, they do have cheaper rates in developing countries: $99 won't apply to you if you're outside of North America or Europe.

Still a profiteering organization, but they've thought this out a little.


The ACM is a parasite of an organization.

If you want to be in one of the clubs that badly, support the IEEE instead. Friendlier, cheaper, and not controlled by lawyers.

The ACM has a lot of cool people, and a few nice resources, but it's not worth supporting the profiteering it does.


> support the IEEE instead

First time I had to do with the IEEE, I was introduced to it being the "Institute of Engineers Exploiting Engineers". I guess that could be considered an improvement over lawyers exploiting engineers, but I'd rather have none of that exploiting going on.


ACM and IEEE are organizations run by academics for academics. I've belonged to both. At this point, with all the resources available on the net, there's little point in a practicing engineer or computer scientist to belong to either.


IEEE also charges way to much. Meanwhile Usenix puts everything online for everyone.


IEEE regularly does promotions that make the cost significantly lower, but I agree that the charge is too high. It fills the same niche as the ACM without harming everyone else, though.


> If you want to be in one of the clubs that badly, support the IEEE instead. Friendlier, cheaper, and not controlled by lawyers.

As a dues-paying member of both organizations, you've seriously got to be smoking crack.

Comparing apples to apples of what annual dues buys you as a member, IEEE charges ~$200/yr (increases every year for the past 10+ years I've ponied up) for a glorified Gmail account that's internally spammed by the organization (and almost certainly mined) while papers still has to be purchased on the side for a ridiculous minimum subscription[1] of $19.95/mo to read 3 papers. ACM provides full access to their Digital Library[2] at the same cost and even offers lifetime membership for perpetual access!

[1] https://www.ieee.org/publications/subscriptions/products/mdl...

[2] https://dl.acm.org/


IEEE still does not allow open access to the articles they publish, and requires its authors to sign exclusive copyright transfer agreements, so it's no better than ACM in terms of open access.


Rule of thumb: if you give away exclusive rights for free, you're doing something wrong.


EE academics have no choice, pragmatically speaking.


To this point, the ACM is headquartered in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, ironically in the same building as the AMA Executive Conference Center.

Their 2017 revenue was $70M, of which $57M was from "Program Services". Their total annual payroll was around $8.5M [1]. This is what the ACM is interested in defending, not the interests of computer science academics or practitioners.

[1] https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/131...


So their mission is to continue to exist. That's what defense contractors would call a self-licking ice cream cone.


> So their mission is to continue to exist.

As tends to become the primary purpose of most institutions which exist for any significant length of time.


Ever tried to read an article on IEEE's website? It's an awful experience that's filled with ads.


Why would you use a browser without an ad blocker? Even iOS has them.


I do of course. I see still need to click through their (now blank) ad interstitial.


It doesn't come up for me using uBO. Strange.


ublock origin blocks almost all of those. I think they're not using the one true adblock plugin :)


Former IEEE member here. I don't understand the distinction you are making. IEEE is also a closed-access publisher, and furthermore is essentially a monopoly if you are an EE researcher (unlike CS where there are well-regarded open-access conferences and journals).

In short: if you're an EE researcher, paying for IEEE isn't a choice; if not, there's no reason to join.


I totally disagree if you get a membership which is affordable at $99 per year you get access to lots of good learning material. That includes computer books from O'reilly and courses from Skillsoft.

Portal https://learning.acm.org/


That doesn't give you access to the Digital Library, which is the part of this that's relevant to the article, and it doesn't change the other arguments given.


Even as an ACM member with multiple subgroup memberships and subscriptions I can’t figure out what I have access to and what I don’t. Far too complex an access model for what they are.


Who are you kidding? For the same annual cost of IEEE membership which doesn't provide shit for access to papers, ACM opens up its entire Digital Library!


Still, if you compare getting O'Reilly membership by itself it would be cheaper to get the ACM membership


My public library offers O'Reilly digital access. Unfortunately, it was some limited subset of what O'Reilly's own subscription service offers. How does ACM compare?


Student membership allows access to nearly all DL resources. Professional membership does not, and you have to pay extra for all the other costs.

This year I paid around $250 for the membership to all the group I was interested into. This is 1/2 of my monthly salary that I get from my government. My government or university does not pay for this, they do not even pay for library access, I do it myself.

Plus I write peer reviews, for free.


I am not an electrical engineer, so I don't feel like joining IEEE. If you have other and better suggestions, please say so.


IEEE-CS is a subgroup of IEEE and is focused on computer scientists. Can't say it is better or worse than ACM. I long ago let my membership in both organizations lapse and haven't missed either much. If I were in academia or research, I might feel differently.


These are the dying throes of a industry that knows its days are numbered.

In biology, we now have biorxiv - arxiv but for biology papers - and the growth of papers there has been exponential (source: https://twitter.com/cshperspectives/status/11922084840136744... ) Biorxiv is free, not peer reviewed, and accepts any format the paper is in (except reviews and rebuttals IIRC).

IMHO: Papers posted to biorxiv are, currently, of higher quality than what you get as a peer reviewer from journals, because authors rely a little bit on the peer review process to clear up any remaining problems. Sometimes this actually happens. Once people are getting used to biorxiv, we'll see more low quality stuff getting submitted there, but still - biorxiv has shown us that in the Internet age, biology doesn't really need journals.

HOWEVER funding bodies, universities, people who have to judge your scientific work still rely on the stamp of journals 100%. My current employer wants us to submit at least 5 papers per year in the top 10% impact factor (IF) journals of our field. If we get into a really large IF journal (Nature, Science), we get a small financial bonus. Universities are, in turn, judged based on in how many high-IF journals they publish (think uni rankings). The higher the ranking, the easier it is to advertise to students, the more money you get in fees.

As long as these people can't find a different measurement for quality of scientific work we're stuck with journals - but once we have a different measurement, we can toss journals out the window immediately.


I have been a reviewer for (Computer Science) journals of publications like - Springer, Elsevier, IEEE, AAAI and ACM. The reviewer doesn't receive any money for reviews. The editing is entirely taken care by the authors of the paper.


Personally I cannot wait for the dissolution of the modern publishing industry. HN might find it of interest that many large academic publishers are trying to pivot to providing a variety of data management services to universities. The academics thus far have not been fooled, but we will see how the politics plays out.


For any department/institution that wants to run its own journal, there's the Open Journal System [1]. They also develop the Open Conference System [2].

I used to be a sysadmin for a research institute using them. Both OJS and OCS performed reasonably well back then.

Technical options to systematically counteract predatory publishing like ACM and Elsevier [3] do exist. However, it requires plenty of institutional commitment and overcoming political opposition, as it boils down to enhancing researcher reputation in an effective way.

Building reputation almost from scratch vs. depending on established, well recognized publishers is kind of the perpetual FOSS vs. proprietary software conflict.

[1] https://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs/

[2] https://pkp.sfu.ca/ocs/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cost_of_Knowledge


> Going below the current 12 month ‘embargo’ would make it very difficult for most American publishers to invest in publishing these articles.

Then just stop doing it. If science needs publishers, scientists will soon notice. If not, well, good riddance!

Frankly, ACM just kills it's own value proposition. You publish with ACM, or IEEE et. al., because they propose greater reach. If scientists realize that noone pays the ridiculous amounts of money and usually go to archive.org instead, they will soon realize that they don't need ACM for publishing.

Soon after, free, or very cheap, open access journals and collections will be the go-to default. If the traditional publishers have any more value to add than a searchable catalog and a barely functioning citation index, they will compete. But I doubt it.


You are forgetting that as a researcher you are evaluated by your own university based on where you publish. And no university will suddenly start to recognize some obscure publication venues, in fact what they will do is issue a policy that such papers will not be taken into account during evalution period.

Otherwise, I would claim that my personal web-site or my colleagues personal web-site is a scientific publisher and would publish my papers only there.

There is a very strong infinite feedback mechanism between respected publishers and respected universities forcing us to flock to such publishers no matter the costs which are exorbitantly high for most of us. But we simply do not have a choice.


I don't forget that. How could I? That topic was omnipresent when I was a research assistant myself. But once the /universities/ don't want to pay that premium any longer, the game is over.


Are there prohibitions to publish in multiple publications?


Yes, pretty much every serious venue is considering only papers with novel, unpublished research, so if you've published "that thing" already somewhere else then that disqualifies you from getting a well-ranked publication out of that piece of research, and it's strong disincentive to publish anything outside of the venues that 'count' for the purposes of evaluating you or your project goals.


In most cases there are no restrictions where you can publish, but you simply know the fact that evaluation committees will look down upon papers published in a venue that is not among the respected ones. Some institutions, and in some cases governments, have a white-list of venues that are considered worthy to publish, so sending a paper to a venue that is not on the white-list will get it evaluated with 0 points. And you will be looked down upon by your colleagues, if you have such papers in your CV.

Publishing the same stuff at several places is considered self-plagiarism, but probably this was not what was your question about.


> There is a very strong infinite feedback mechanism between respected publishers and respected universities forcing us to flock to such publishers no matter the costs which are exorbitantly high for most of us. But we simply do not have a choice.

In that case it is the role of the United States Government to step in and break this monopolistic-feedback loop. A simple way would be to deny any federal-backed student loans to schools who do not openly publish and continue to incestuously be involved with ACM.

Withholding money is one of the most powerful ways to change behaviors.


I am not talking about USA only. And I am not talking about direct ties between the universities and publishers. In most cases, they do not have any ties whatsover, but are clinging to such practices.

So to solve the problem you need a change at both your university, and at the publishing side. But still, as many do not have a tenure, you have to think about possible future mobility, and if your papers are published in some new venue, you are risking that in the future it might not be recognized by your future employer.

Therefore you are kind-of forced into self-censorship.

Especially if you are from a poor country where no-one pays you to do research (just teaching) and you can only go to 1 conference in a year or every 2 years. You have to "make them count".


Well, I guess 2019 is going to be the last year of my paid membership. I've been a member for the past 15 years. I'll send my membership dues to Sci-Hub instead.


> Peer-reviewed articles are not free to produce.

Yeah, they are not free to produce, but they can cost as little as $10 per submission. See Discrete Analysis[1], for instance. Here’s Tim Gowers’ announcement from 2015 going into the economic details.[2]

[1] https://discreteanalysisjournal.com/

[2] https://gowers.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/discrete-analysis-an...


The scientific publishing industry is a racket. It’s defending a pricing model that was steep when all journals had to be typeset and printed. Now it’s inexcusable.

All Open Access does is shift the cost to the authors of the paper (usually as an explicit portion of the funding grant). The publishers still get paid! They just can’t keep charging over and over for the same PDF. Of course they’re going to whine and moan.


Indeed, but the ACM is not (purely) a publisher. It should represent the interests of its members instead of betraying them.


Next time vote for persons who are not working in USA and who are not voting in EU and other wealthy countries. The rest are not so well funded, so they should know better.


I am an ACM member and I am not American, and I was not asked if I agree with this. I feel this is an abuse of power by the ACM leadership and will speak against this internally.

But, as I mentioned in another post, ACM allows it's members to use their Authorizer service to allow access to their own papers for free via their institutional or personal web-sites. This means that papers will be in-a-way openly accessible, but not via the ACM Digital Library - as a visitor you should try to go to the authors website and see if there is a free link to download the paper.


“Information wants to be free.”

The iconic phrase is attributed to Stewart Brand,[1] who, in the late 1960s, founded the Whole Earth Catalog and argued that technology could be liberating rather than oppressing.[2] The earliest recorded occurrence of the expression was at the first Hackers Conference in 1984. Brand told Steve Wozniak:[3]

From Wikipedia.


Long live arXiv.org, paid publications should be totally disrupted in 2020.


arXiv is a nice idea but I kinda hate it. It's not compatible with overleaf for no good reason at all. arXiv expects you to ship the source of the article + some sort of generated bib file of a specific version, instead of generating the bib file from the source. As a result, arXiv will fail to host overleaf generated content if both happen to use different versions of tex at the time. But I'm submitting the entire source to arXiv, so there is no good reason for arXiv to fail to produce a pdf from it!

Gave up on arXiv because of that. I use overleaf to avoid all the Latex issues, and I'm absolutely not interested in supporting something that expects me to get back to wasting time on fixing latex issues instead of producing content.


Yes, even though I don't use Overleaf, I had a similar problem caused by arXiv using an older version of biblatex than I do. (I think bibtex's file format has been more stable and might work.) Switching to TeX Live 2016 (the distribution that arXiv uses) on my end as I recall seemed to be more trouble than it's worth. Instead I used an alternative preprint website where I only had to upload a PDF file.


Just delete the .bib file. arXiv only needs the .bbl file. What is confusing is even if you have both the .bib and .bbl, arXiv doesn't ignore the former, it raises an error anyway. Bad error reporting.

Another tip if you're using overleaf: make sure your bibliography related warnings that overleaf points out, are gone too. Overleaf is resilient to these but arXiv is not.


I think the bbl file is what I meant. It's created from the source and bib file, and arXiv refuses to accept the one that is created by overleaf. I really dislike arXiv for demanding the full source and refusing pdfs, but then insisting you also provide a file that is generated from that source, but not accepting that file unless it's generated with specific builders.


Oh that's surprising. I uploaded content generated by overleaf (they provide a arXiv compatible dump of your project) a month or so ago and it worked smoothly (after uploading to arXiv I deleted the bib file of course).


I tried about a year ago and about half a year ago, respectively. Both times, the exported bbl file hat a different version than the one accepted by arXiv. First time, the bbl version was too old. Second time, the bbl version was too new. First time, I ended up printing the latex generated pdf file to a new pdf, so that arXiv wouldn't recognize it as a Latex produced file. That kinda sucked because in the printed pdf, you couldn't select text or access references. Second time that didn't work anymore because arXiv added a check to prevent users from uploading printed pdfs. I ended up simply hosting it at our institute page and abandoning arXiv.


Don't forget that arXiv is not recognized as a publisher of scientific work by nearly all universities, and you are only evaluated for papers published by well known venues.


arXiv is a formidable resource. Yet, many scholars don't trust it as a source and won't publish there :(

The argument from authority (e.g., publishing mafias) fallacy is ripe in academia.

Same situation with textbooks. Besides profit and trying to become famous, there's no reason why a professor should publish through a traditional imprint or publisher (Pearson, Cengage, McGraw Hill, Wiley, Taylor and Francis, Elsevier, etc.). LaTeX, a Creative Commons license, and a homepage at the university department (and perhaps a GitHub/GitLab repo) is all a professor needs to make textbooks available worldwide.

Writing and editing a textbook is indeed a hard task. Yet, having the end result behind paywalls and arbitrary pricing isn't worth it.


>> The argument from authority (e.g., publishing mafias) fallacy is ripe in academia.

I believe the reason Arxiv is not trusted in some fields is that it's seen as a loophole that allows bad articles to avoid the filter of peer review and see the light of day. It would not be a problem if Arxiv was full of such articles, that would never cut it in an actual publication, but such articles are mixed with many that are eventually published and that just adds an amount of noise to the process that makes it hard to be sure what you're reading, especially if it doesn't exactly match your expertise.

In other fields, e.g. in machine learning, putting your paper on Arxiv is de rigeur although of course that means anonymous reviewing goes out the window, so there's legitimiate concerns there also.


> It would not be a problem if Arxiv was full of such articles, that would never cut it in an actual publication, but such articles are mixed with many that are eventually published and that just adds an amount of noise to the process that makes it hard to be sure what you're reading

I don't see this is a problem as, if you want to cite an arXiv paper, the responsibility on you increase, to ensure that the methodology etc is sound. This would be a better state of affairs than the "you must cite this highly cited paper just because it's a highly cited paper" situation we're in now.


In practice, you only have to cite a highly cited paper if yours happens to be reviewd by a contributor to the highly cited paper.


Or by someone associated with them (in their lab, uni, co-authors as you mention etc). Essentially this means you must cite certain papers in some areas, as for larger conferences you're sure to be reviewed by such people.


Textbooks and research papers are an entirely separate topics, imho.

While it's easy to argue for textbooks to be openly available (just like education should be), there is no single reason for research papers not to be, since they purportedly advance science and human kind itself, and there is the demand of originality (if I can't access it, I can't establish if someone has not done it already).


Journals get away with extortionate fees because tenure committees, interview panels etc take journal quality as a proxy for research quality when evaluating a candidate.

If they stopped doing that it would certainly reduce the incentive to submit research to the more expensive journals.


As soon as I saw American Heart Association on the list I knew it was going to be a scam idea. This "non-profit" pays their CEO $1.5M, just fired all their product distributors to bring profit home, and just squeezed all their independent training centers by tripling the price of supplies to them. Lastly, they plant "volunteers" into its customers. For example, the purchasing manager for Veterans Affairs in charge of buying all CPR training for the world's largest health system is also in a leadership position with AHA. Guess who has the exclusive, non-competitive contract?

When anti net neutrality was up for debate, same thing. I just needed to tell grandmom: it's a political thing Comcast is fighting for. Grandmom replies "if Comcast wants it it must be bad". Bam! Done explaining.


Is there any comparable list of organisations which have supported this measure?

Though the list of signatories to this particular letter is extraordinarily disheartening.

I'd written a brief bit a few years ago, "What the academic publishing industry calls "theft" the world calls 'research': Why Sci-Hub is so popular"

https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/4p2rwk/what_th...

Among other points, it includes cites from notable academics (NYU's Graduate Center president Chase Robinson, and Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz) making the case for information as a public good.


Of course... Money over free flow of scientific information.

How is this possible? Much of this research is - at least partially - tax funded. And then publishing corporations skim money from the distribution of the information providing little or no value. In my book that perfectly meets the definition of a parasite.

Perhaps I am missing something.


I am an ACM member and I see many other members like me disappointed by the stance ACM took. What is the best way to get our grievances known? Thousands comments across various forums are lost in information noise. If there is a petition or an open letter we can sign?



>> This mandate already amounts to a significant government intervention in the private market.

This caught my eye. I find it curious that "government intervention in the private market" seems to be treated as de facto harmful.

The "mandate" refers to "a legacy regulation that is still in force today" under which "proprietary journal articles that report on federally funded research must be made available for free within 12 months of publication".


> This caught my eye. I find it curious that "government intervention in the private market" seems to be treated as de facto harmful.

The current administration and Senate is the target of that sentence.


Well of course they did. The business model for the established journals is gatekeeping knowledge, so why would they be for open science?


Reminds me of CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association), organizers of the biggest trade show for manufacturers of Cellphone service equipment, coming out against right to repair in 2017 during Nebraska state hearing.


As I said many times, the organizations which support the publishers is the problem. Lots of money go to publishers pockets because academic management support them.


Their arguments would be convincing if their peer review processes actually worked to guarantee the integrity of their published results.


Honest question: what is the benefit of publishing in a peer reviewed journal vs something like Wikipedia?


Wikipedia will reject "original research". That phrase would completely apply, without scare quotes, to articles that need peer review. You could always use a blogging platform?


What a farrago of lies and deceit this is! Calling Open Access a “legacy regulation” is a rather excessive bit of lying. These journals depend very much on tax dollars which is why every library that drops them destroys their bottom line and the base of individual subscribers (teaching faculty) generally don’t pay for their subscriptions themselves.

Frankly in reading this I was just shocked to see the Trump administration accused of possibly taking steps forward that the Obama administration did not/would not. We should only be paying for research once. Paying publishers repeatedly for access to somebody else’s work isn’t right in this age of competing budget priorities.


If I wanted to kill open access in today's political environment, I'd frame it as communism/socialism vs. big business/tax dollars and lobby Trump on that basis, and goad him with some anti-Obama trash talk. At first blush it sounds difficult to get Trump to care about this apparent ivory-tower issue, but in that framing, he might just care enough to act. It's a sorry state of affairs that the president is so predictably shallow.


trying hard to sympathize with this letter

So , a bunch of societies publish journals which rely on closed access and library subscription fees to survive. They are afraid to start charging for the open access fees, because they know that authors will prefer to publishing in other, better known open access journals instead. So they attempt to lobby Trump using the sleaziest of pretenses, appealing to his "america first" sensitivities. They also misrepresent themselves as they don't operate in an open private marketplace, since library subscriptions are practically mandatory and paid by the state in most of europe and much of US. They don't produce the intellectual property they describe either - the original authors do and also hold copyrights to it. Plus they publish a ton of submissions from foreign countries so, what are they talking about? So ... these guys should look up "streisand effect"

It is inevitable that mandatory open access will lead to consolidation to a few open access libraries. That's both good and bad , but significantly more good


The letter isn't that long, and I find the press release less useful than the full text. It's also signed by many more publishers than just the ACM.

> Dear President Trump:

> The undersigned organizations represent the leading publishers and non-profit scientific societies in the United States. We write to you with deep concern regarding a proposed policy that has come to our attention that would jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results. The role of the publisher is to advance scholarship and innovation, fostering the American leadership in science that drives our economy and global competitiveness. As copyrighted works, peer-reviewed journal articles are licensed to users in hundreds of foreign countries, supporting billions of dollars in U.S. exports and an extensive network of American businesses and jobs. In producing and disseminating these articles, we make ongoing competitive investments to support the scientific and technical communities that we serve.

> As noted above, we have learned that the Administration may be preparing to step into the private marketplace and force the immediate free distribution of journal articles financed and published by organizations in the private sector, including many non-profits. This would effectively nationalize the valuable American intellectual property that we produce and force us to give it away to the rest of the world for free. This risks reducing exports and negating many of the intellectual property protections the Administration has negotiated with our trading partners.

> We write to express our strong opposition to this proposal, but in doing so we want to underscore that publishers make no claims to research data resulting from federal funding.

> To be clear, publishers both support and enable “open access” business models and “open data” as important options within a larger framework that assumes critical publisher investments remain viable. Under a legacy regulation that is still in force today, proprietary journal articles that report on federally funded research must be made available for free within 12 months of publication. This mandate already amounts to a significant government intervention in the private market. Going below the current 12 month “embargo” would make it very difficult for most American publishers to invest in publishing these articles. As a consequence, it would place increased financial responsibility on the government through diverted federal research grant funds or additional monies to underwrite the important value added by publishing.

> In the coming years, this cost shift would place billions of dollars of new and additional burden on taxpayers. In the process, such a policy would undermine American jobs, exports, innovation, and intellectual property. It could also result in some scientific societies being forced to close their doors or to no longer be able to support the publication of U.S.-sponsored science that is key to ensuring that the U.S. remains the world leader in science and technology.

> In addition to financing and managing a world-leading peer review process, publishers make extensive investments in education, research, and innovative digital platforms that advance American competitiveness and help ensure the quality and integrity of American science. Undermining the marketplace is unnecessary, counterproductive, and would significantly harm the system of peer-reviewed scholarly communication that fuels America’s leadership in research and innovation.

> We urge you to oppose this proposed policy, and we look forward to working with the Administration on this matter.


[flagged]


Just because trump is doing something does not mean it's bad. Although probably give it a closer look.


Whether universally supported or no it seems quite relevant.


How does this have anything to do with Trump?


https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/12/19/21029902/o...

Headline: Trump might help free science that’s locked behind paywalls

Summary: Reportedly, the White House may issue an executive order on federally funded research. Publishers aren’t happy.


Well, the first three words of the letter are "Dear President Trump"


What does a letter addressed to Trump, opposing an executive order that he is reportedly considering have to do with Trump?


That's unnecessary. The article linked doesn't mention his name once, and it's easy to be unaware of the minutiae of U.S. politics on any given day.


The article is in reference to “Administration policy”, which is only slightly ambiguous, and the letter it links at the very top of the page starts “Dear President Trump”. If you read even the first paragraph of the article, and you didn’t know it was regarding a Trump policy, then you had no idea what it was about at all.




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