- 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
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.
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.
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.
Weird assumption! Generally speaking, academic research is considered to be an international, or super-national, cooperative effort in most fields.
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.
> 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".
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.
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.
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.
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
I have no problem with open access by the way, I'm not advocating for restrictive publishing practices here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One can imagine a world where high-quality reviewing entities exist and attract top researchers without being profit-driven publishers.
Sometimes people agree to review articles because they get to see research before everyone else.
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.
People who think open access is the solution to that are dealing with a focusing illusion - https://www.edge.org/response-detail/11984
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.
Peer review is not (if you want to keep your career, that is).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hopefully my personal page is well indexed in Google Scholar when searching for my name, so anyone can get my articles for free.
This effectively allows open-access to your papers, as long as you have a web-site.
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. :(
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.
Still a profiteering organization, but they've thought this out a little.
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.
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.
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 of $19.95/mo to read 3 papers. ACM provides full access to their Digital Library at the same cost and even offers lifetime membership for perpetual access!
Their 2017 revenue was $70M, of which $57M was from "Program Services". Their total annual payroll was around $8.5M . This is what the ACM is interested in defending, not the interests of computer science academics or practitioners.
As tends to become the primary purpose of most institutions which exist for any significant length of time.
In short: if you're an EE researcher, paying for IEEE isn't a choice; if not, there's no reason to join.
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.
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 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  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.
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.
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.
Publishing the same stuff at several places is considered self-plagiarism, but probably this was not what was your question about.
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.
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".
Yeah, they are not free to produce, but they can cost as little as $10 per submission. See Discrete Analysis, for instance. Here’s Tim Gowers’ announcement from 2015 going into the economic details.
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.
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.
The iconic phrase is attributed to Stewart Brand, who, in the late 1960s, founded the Whole Earth Catalog and argued that technology could be liberating rather than oppressing. The earliest recorded occurrence of the expression was at the first Hackers Conference in 1984. Brand told Steve Wozniak:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
If they stopped doing that it would certainly reduce the incentive to submit research to the more expensive journals.
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.
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"
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.
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.
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".
The current administration and Senate is the target of that sentence.
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.
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
> 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.
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.