Ultimately, I hope that open access journals such as those as PLoS continue to gain prestige and become top tier journals (some of them are almost there). But meanwhile, taxpayer-funded research should be made available to the public.
It only takes a minute to sign :)
Most political petitions have no impact. They are just email-gathering campaigns. This one is different: it's on the Whitehouse site and it's not for gathering emails, it's to give Open Access advocates some political cover as they craft their proposal.
So if you sign only one online petition this year, make it this one.
> So if you sign only one online petition this year, make it this one.
Obviously different petitions will have different worthiness-levels, both in terms of their cause and their likelihood to have any effect, but I don't think your arguments really back up the "if you only sign one.." statement.
Or are petitions just some way to keep people busy and feel like someone cares?
If I recall, it has the largest research budget of any non-military US government body by far.
Isn't it the task of Congress in the US to set policy about what requirements are attached to the expenditure of public money, does the executive branch really have any impact on stuff like this?
While the President doesn't have any official power over the legislating process, he can wield significant political pressure as de facto head of his party, via shaping public opinion from the bully pulpit and with the threat of a veto.
Presidents have, for some time now, been very active in setting/driving legislative priorities.
Regarding the 'petitions'. The 'petitions' in question here have no legal standing at all. It is essentially a way for the current administration to let the people involved feel like their views are being heard. The end result of each of these is generally either a) a canned response about how they can't comment on the petition for whatever reason or b) a rehash of current policy.
The only real impact, if any, of the petition is if they sway the administration by demonstrating what public opinion on the matter is.
But of course this makes it all the more ridiculous that we allow them to lock up the results of research. The issue here isn't just that Open Access is more economically efficient (although it is, by a factor of 3-5). The real issue is that there's so much can't do at any price with the current system or paywalls. If the Web as a whole were paywalled as academic papers are, we'd have no Google for example, because it wouldn't be possible to spider. We can't even SAY what the advantages to ubiquitous open access will be yet -- they haven't been invented, any more than spidering web-search engines were invented before the Web.
This is the age of the individual contributor. Open Source has taught us all about the power of appealing to and capturing the output of people working at home, in small groups, at small startups, etc.
So this isn't so much about recapturing the piece of a fixed pie that Elsevier takes. This is about making an incredibly larger pie by opening the information up to a wider audience and allowing us to compound the benefits in a much larger ecosystem.
Naturally smaller institutions are going to spend a larger piece of their pie on something if its price doesn't scale very much compared to a larger institution.
Anyway, research is the primary motivation for purchasing journal subscriptions. It does not make financial sense for a non-research institution to subscribe to many journals. So regardless of which budget the subscriptions are formally taken from, they come from, it should be considered a cost of research. Making the system more efficient frees up money somewhere that reduces the cost of (externally- and internally-funded) research.
Are there any existing examples of places where this has been put into practice that we can compare to see which state of affairs is better? I'm unsure it would be beneficial because most of the public wouldn't read/understand the actual journal articles anyway, and I expect most of the scientists who do work in the field already have subscriptions. I'm worried there might be harm because government mandates of all kinds very often have negative unintended consequences and I'm curious what those might be for this area.
Who do you mean by "we"? Because you certainly can not be referring to "we" as in
mankind. Locking away knowledge behind walls of bureaucracy and artificial monopolies
will certainly not speed up progress, but instead slowly grind it to a halt.
Just look at the state of the patent wars. Everyone is suing each other, or claiming
to just collect patents to be able to counter-sue. Microsoft, Google, Apple, and all
the other big players probably each have patents on all technologies all of them use,
a good amount of those more than once and worded as ridiculously over-general claims.
So if by "we" you are referring to the few dozen mega-corps that pretty much control
our shared heritage of knowledge, then yes, you are quite likely correct.
If, on the other hand, you want to maximize the rate of technological advancement for
the "we" as in all of humanity, then embrace Open Access, get rid of patents and
all that other nonsense, and realize that incremental, cooperative development
will speed up progress by magnitudes.
The current petition is a different strategy towards the same goal, approaching the Whitehouse directly in the hope of catalysing a presidential-level directive that would jump-start the process. (Not a speculative hope, either -- relevant people have the ear of Obama's scientific advisor.)
This is a serious question. Back when I was seriously tracking a couple of areas, I didn't care at all about journals because they were about a year behind.
Public access to data, that would be something.
As far as I know, laws? nada
If the author of the book wasn't adding any value, you wouldn't need the book, you could just read the research.
If you're an academic, you won't get it. The way academic publishing works is that you do the research, write it up, prepare the illustrations, then sign over copyright of the whole lot to a publisher such as Elsevier. They will then publish the book, make a tidy profit, and pay you: nothing. Nothing at all.