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Topic: U.S. Agencies Directed to Make Scientific Research, Papers Publicly Available< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 7:31 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Working in science, I've been hoping for this for some time.  It's been frustrating having all the highest-impact journals (where scientists push to get their papers published) have a death-grip lock on access to publications.  They continue to skyrocket exorbitant page-fees for article writers (thousands of dollars per page of an article), and then turn around and skyrocket the journal subscription prices to individuals and institutions that want to read the articles.  Meanwhile the publishing companies make billions on this model (Elsevier had a revenue of $3.2B last year with a profit margin of 37%) while keeping publicly-funded research results out of the hands of the majority of the public.

The NIH (Nat'l Institute for Health) mandated years ago that all NIH-funded medical research must be made publicly available (i.e. "open access") and set up a huge "PubMed" repository for the work, which has had good results and hasn't actually bankrupted publishers despite their complaints.

The rest of the federal gov't finally followed suit.  Although not taking as strong of a stance as the "PubMed" NIH approach, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has told all major federal science funding institutions (NASA, NSF, DOE, etc) that any publication coming from their funding sources must be made publicly available within a year after the initial article publication.

Article: U.S. Agencies Directed to Make Research Papers Available

About time.  Now if I publish a paper (my work is NASA-funded) I can have some hope that the public will actually get a chance to read it, rather than just a smattering of academic institutions who can foot the subscription bills.  I'm happy about this. :) :)  Yay.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 8:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I wonder how this will pan out for research funded by state government agencies as mine was (Texas Parks and Wildlife).

I am several months off from being ready for any sort of journal publication, but that is definitely in the cards for me at some point this year.

My research will certainly be of interest to other researchers in Texas, but it will also be notable for anyone interested in occupancy research and anyone interested in using motion-sensing camera traps for multispecies survey efforts, and small mammals in particular.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 9:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Unfortunately, the link you included is to an article in Science magazine where access to the general public is restricted as follows: "Purchase Access to this Article for 1 day for US$20.00." (Source: Science Magazine)

Or, of course, if we are near a large public library that carries Science, I presume we may access the article there. I suspect your access is free through the university. But thanks anyway. I'll simply rely on your information above.

Whether or not members of the public are credentialed in the same field of study, there are plenty of us capable of reading research papers in other fields. So any progress in making those papers available to the public is appreciated. However, I think in many circumstances the delay of even a year is unwarranted.

For instance, I occasionally read legal and research papers regarding wildlife management. The legal filings are generally available in a PDF file within a day or two after the news of a court ruling is released. There is no reason for a year's delay. Such rulings may rely heavily upon research funded by the Federal Government. Think of an endangered species ruling upon the "best science available."

While the court ruling may mention the research, if the actual research papers are withheld from the general public for even a year, legal proceedings may continue and mandated "public comment periods" may lapse before the general public is even allowed a fair review of the research. So, in my view, the year delay still leaves much to be desired.

But this sounds like progress, so I hope we can expect more in the same direction.

But even when and if those papers are made public, I've often found their internet location unnecessarily remote and obscured. I'm fortunate when a news article publishes at least a short title of the paper and names of the researchers. But it seems that if a conscientious journalist bothered to include that, his or her editor submitted those words first to the chopping block when trying to fit the article into a column space. If not, then often the documents can be found simply with title and author.

Even better, sometimes Ralph Maughan's "Wildlife News" will obtain a PDF copy and make it easily available from that website.

But I've been repeatedly disappointed to go to Fish and Game websites to find that they have restructured their web addresses (more than once) so that research papers which I had saved a link to are no longer available. Even if the agency has a special section for such documents, those pages may be dominated by 404 error messages, "under construction" delays, or have some similar excuse to deny access to past research — as if only the past two years are of importance to anyone.

I've found one organization increasing suspect. That is the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), dominated by state wildlife agencies interacting with US Fish and Wildlife. The IGBC seems especially adept at hiding research with error messages and with documents sections that are years out of date. It prefers public campaigns such as removed wolves from the List with a budget trick.

Perhaps the original funding for the research didn't include a budget for website linking. But I doubt that that is the reason.

Unfortunately, the IGBC's campaign to delist grizzlies is founded upon inaccurate information cleverly crafted for news outlets, yet a decade out of date. And that campaign — if based upon any research at all — relies upon misreading of documents which may have been for years hidden from the public by shoddy webpage management.

So I appreciate the heads up on this development. It sounds like progress. I hope the trend accelerates, but my optimism is tainted by what I've seen.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 11:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Travis -
quite ironic that the referenced article is behind a paywall at one of the journals that's more notorious for being very expensive.  I didn't bother to try to read it the first time around, as I was just commenting on the same stuff GBH was discussing.  I don't have easy access to this stuff anymore.  FWIW, have you tried submitting an ILL through your local library?  mine will get copies of articles if I ask for them, even though it might take weeks for the photocopy to arrive.

if you haven't already updated your techniques to include downloading and maintaining your own database of pdf articles when you find them, I suggest you begin to do so.

You can use an open source reference manager such as Zotero to make them searchable when you're after something in particular.

I have a database that includes over a thousand.  several hundred I found and downloaded on my own, and several hundred that were shared with me from other researchers.  some of them are scans of the journal that I made at the library myself.  a few are scans of the microfilm I made myself, because the library I had access to had the equipment for that.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 11:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(wildlifenate @ Mar. 05 2013, 9:39 pm)
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Travis -
quite ironic that the referenced article is behind a paywall at one of the journals that's more notorious for being very expensive.  I didn't bother to try to read it the first time around, as I was just commenting on the same stuff GBH was discussing.  I don't have easy access to this stuff anymore.  FWIW, have you tried submitting an ILL through your local library?  mine will get copies of articles if I ask for them, even though it might take weeks for the photocopy to arrive.

if you haven't already updated your techniques to include downloading and maintaining your own database of pdf articles when you find them, I suggest you begin to do so.

You can use an open source reference manager such as Zotero to make them searchable when you're after something in particular.

I have a database that includes over a thousand.  several hundred I found and downloaded on my own, and several hundred that were shared with me from other researchers.  some of them are scans of the journal that I made at the library myself.  a few are scans of the microfilm I made myself, because the library I had access to had the equipment for that.

It is ironic, indeed.

Regarding me downloading available papers for my own reading. That's not the problem. I download any important research paper that is publicly available. I've been doing that for years and keep them organized.

The problem is in accessing that paper in the first place and in being able to link that paper to others who might want to read it. For that I prefer to have current reliable links.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 12:09 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Washington Post has a decent article
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-02....alition

The National Library of Medicine long, long predates the open data laws, like 1836 predates, and originally PubMed/MedLine was just a somewhat easier to use front end for the data. That continues to evolve.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mobile/introduction.html
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 12:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Mar. 05 2013, 10:09 pm)
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The Washington Post has a decent article
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-02....alition . . .

From that article, something to think about:
    The new policy traverses a middle ground between the demands of advocates for immediate free access to research and the pecuniary interests of the $21 billion academic publishing sector. It appeared to placate large segments of both sides.

    The Association of American Publishers, which has fought open-access proposals in Congress, called the policy a “fair path.” A coalition of academic libraries fed up with high journal prices also praised the plan.

    “I think it’s a huge step in the right direction,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which represents libraries.

    Some open-access advocates, meanwhile, took issue with the policy’s one-year waiting period.

    “It’s lame,” said Michael Eisen, a University of California, Berkeley, biologist and a vocal proponent of immediate free access to research papers. “It’s a major sellout to publishers.”
I agree that it is a step in the right direction, but as I detailed in my first post, it is not a solution to many problems regarding "immediate free access."


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 12:42 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

An on-line subscription to Science mag comes with the $99 membership in the AAAS.  Granted, that's a bit much for an interested non-professional, but I think that it is the kind of membership and subscription that those who work in the field expect to have to maintain.  My husband typically maintains (at our expense) memberships in the AGU, AAAS, and AMS (Am. Meteorological Society).  Keeping up with the profession is expensive.  And then there's the time to read all that stuff. . . oops, different issue!

But I would say that any magazine or newspaper has the right to insist that people who read their stuff pay for it in some way.  A journal-only subscription might be nice for Science, though.


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(RebeccaD @ Mar. 05 2013, 10:42 pm)
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. . . But I would say that any magazine or newspaper has the right to insist that people who read their stuff pay for it in some way.  A journal-only subscription might be nice for Science, though.

Not any magazine or publication. Generally, in copyright law, the entity that paid for the services has copyright to the proceeds. So is Science magazine paying similar enormous fees to the Federal Government for the privilege of publishing the Federally-funded research? If not, I suspect that the Federal Government is in effect subsidizing Science magazine. And as you pointed out, Science is far from the only professional publication taking advantage of the sweet deal.

According to the article I quoted, 40% of subscribers are from the general public. Seriously, what good is 24-hour access at $20-30 a swat? That's pathetic. When I read something, I try to read carefully between many other time-consuming obligations. A week later, I may want to reread some segments to make sure I understood correctly. Another $20-30 due?

Why do we have legally-mandated "public comment periods" that require a sizable investment merely to understand the issue? So the educated general public is required to spend at least $40 to obtain a knowledgeable basis for each citizens' public comment? Would you wish to pay $40 merely to make an educated comment on wilderness-use issues — after you already paid for the research itself?

Libraries are not founded on the notion of expensive pay-per-view for information citizens helped fund and therefore share the copyright to. The entire basis of public libraries is free public access.

It is Federal law that designated repository libraries that benefit from free copies of Federal documents grant free access to the public. That includes university libraries. Perhaps a similar law is in order for professional publications. How would those publications like it if all Federally-funded research were published elsewhere, and they had to pay the exorbitant fees?

But we'll see where this goes. I'm glad to see that even some respected academics are pushing for free immediate access.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 11:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I like peer review, it's an imperfect but necessary crap filter and I would anticipate that would be eliminated with immediate access, as the peer reviewed journals would fold when their material was immediately given away free.

So the scientific literature would devolve to an internet rumor mill. Not a scenario I'd look forward to. The consequences of such a feel-good gesture would be rather nasty, IMHO.

BTW? ANYONE who wants to just throw their stuff out there when they do research is perfectly free to do so. Nothing at all to stop them. Set up a box outside their office with a pile of self published reports. And a set of pdf files on their blog.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 11:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There is nothing about the present arrangement that is necessary to peer review. In fact, it limits peer review. And much of what those magazines are publishing is not "their" material. The official peer-reviewing process may not even be done through those magazines.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 11:35 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TravisNWood @ Mar. 06 2013, 10:21 am)
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There is nothing about the present arrangement that is necessary to peer review. In fact, it limits peer review. And much of what those magazines are publishing is not "their" material. The official peer-reviewing process may not even be done through those magazines.

As HSF noted, peer review would disappear if the financial motives of the journals disappeared.

There's PlosOne out there serving the immediate free access role right now, and I'm already seeing that an increasing number of popular science media are citing it.  Most likely because it doesn't cost them to read the source material.

What do you mean the official peer reviewing process may not be done through those magazines?  Journals won't publish until their volunteer reviewers sign off on some research.  That is and always has been the peer review.

I would rather not have the peer review process be like internet comments on news sites, a free-for-all where the uneducated yet opinionated compete for space with those who understand the topic and have legitimate comments.

No, this doesn't prevent every problem you pointed out, Travis.  But on the positive side, you can request material through your local library as soon as it's published, or visit a university library that keeps a subscription to a given journal.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 11:46 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(wildlifenate @ Mar. 06 2013, 9:35 am)
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As HSF noted, peer review would disappear if the financial motives of the journals disappeared.

There's PlosOne out there serving the immediate free access role right now, and I'm already seeing that an increasing number of popular science media are citing it.  Most likely because it doesn't cost them to read the source material. . . .

So you think that PlosOne is destroying peer review in the health sciences?

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(TravisNWood @ Mar. 05 2013, 7:37 pm)
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Unfortunately, the link you included is to an article in Science magazine where access to the general public is restricted as follows: "Purchase Access to this Article for 1 day for US$20.00." (Source: Science Magazine)

LOL.  The irony is thick.  It was a Science News article (not a peer-reviewed piece) so I assumed it would be publicly available.  I'm on a University network that pays the institutional subscription, so it's hard for me to tell what others can read.  This article being locked behind a subscription fee is funny.

I don't share HSF's fears about the peer-review process going to hell from this decision.  There's nothing stopping peer-review from happening.  An article isn't published until it's peer-reviewed, this doesn't change that.  They'll still charge huge page-fees (that need to be worked into any research budget) for publication.  Any privately-funded research can still be kept behind as thick of a subscription curtain as they want.

It's just, research that was publicly funded should be made available to the public to read.  I agree with that.  This proposal doesn't mandate immediate distribution, it's a compromise.  Journals would get a year to allow exclusive access to new articles (and I think most institutions would still pay the subscription fees for that... I for one really value being able to read articles related to my research as soon as they're published), and after 1 year they become publicly available.  Any journal that doesn't want to do that doesn't have to.  NSF/NASA/DOE/etc-funded projects can publish in other journals.  And it's a guideline... each institution can play with that 1-year cutoff (lengthen or shorten the deadline if they want) to fit what makes the most practical sense for their field of research.

I don't buy the "journals will go under, all peer-review will disappear, sky is falling" premonition.  It didn't happen with NIH research, and that was as much-stronger mandate.  That's just the canned responses of the publishing companies who are currently enjoying sweet profits on all ends of the equation (charging researchers thousands to publish, charging the subscribers to read it, and expecting expert reviewers to do the job for free, which they do).  This isn't going to remove all profit from the publishers.  I think that's a crock.

Just my $.02 anyway.

- Mike


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(wildlifenate @ Mar. 06 2013, 9:35 am)
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. . . What do you mean the official peer reviewing process may not be done through those magazines?  Journals won't publish until their volunteer reviewers sign off on some research.  That is and always has been the peer review. . . .

You are quite mistaken. Peer review of the Wyoming Wolf Management Plan was done entirely without the involvement of magazines such as Science.

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(TravisNWood @ Mar. 06 2013, 8:21 am)
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There is nothing about the present arrangement that is necessary to peer review. In fact, it limits peer review. And much of what those magazines are publishing is not "their" material. The official peer-reviewing process may not even be done through those magazines.

You're almost entirely wrong.

While it's true one can send one's work off to fellow researchers for comment and then put the edited work on your windowsill or blog that isn't an efficient or credible process compared to true anonymous peer review and neutral editing. So, yes, not "necessary" but quite useful and valued by those who have a finite amount of time to keep up with their ever expanding fields.

Few to no scientific journal papers get published raw, the editing process in response to peer review is a critical function of those very journals which is mediated by the journal's editorial staff as mediators between the anonymous reviewers and authors, without which the credibility gets eroded down to the level approaching vanity press self publishing which, btw, is always an option for any researcher as I wrote. Just post the pdf to the blog.

As to it being ""their" material"": well of course not, they're  publishers not researchers. But copyrights do apply.

What is your concept of an "official peer-reviewing process"? Sending your draft to some friends is, actually not "peer review", there, for one, any response is optional and not mandatory as it is with a journal's structure: you ignore or inadequately address reviewers comments at your peril: ignoring a friends comments doesn't come with any issues. Those friends aren't "reviewers" at that point, they're co-authors.

Bottom line is I agree with public access to publicly funded work, but in a manner that preserves the value of that work. Peer review and neutral editing adds and preserves value: Early drafts can be quite the mess.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 12:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

GoBlueHiker-

Good point they could just raise the pages charges I suppose. Yikes.

I'd think immediate access would be a financial challenge to the journals, much less so a year's delay as is being considered.

The business model would need adjusting but it wouldn't be the first time, a year's delay would just be the new copyright period and they'd bake that in but it would offer a revenue stream. Hate for those checks to get any bigger though and could there be a thing like reality television? The vast ocean of cheap self published stuff washing over the peer reviewed, thus expensive, outlets until the costs to the authors just is too much and everyone goes self publishing?

It would be back to names and pedigrees.

I'd have to check what NIH's embargo guidelines are.
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(High_Sierra_Fan @ Mar. 06 2013, 9:59 am)
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(TravisNWood @ Mar. 06 2013, 8:21 am)
QUOTE
There is nothing about the present arrangement that is necessary to peer review. In fact, it limits peer review. And much of what those magazines are publishing is not "their" material. The official peer-reviewing process may not even be done through those magazines.

You're almost entirely wrong.

While it's true one can send one's work off to fellow researchers for comment and then put the edited work on your windowsill or blog that isn't an efficient or credible process compared to true anonymous peer review and neutral editing. So, yes, not "necessary" but quite useful and valued by those who have a finite amount of time to keep up with their ever expanding fields.

Few to no scientific journal papers get published raw, the editing process in response to peer review is a critical function of those very journals which is mediated by the journal's editorial staff as mediators between the anonymous reviewers and authors, without which the credibility gets eroded down to the level approaching vanity press self publishing which, btw, is always an option for any researcher as I wrote. Just post the pdf to the blog.

As to it being ""their" material"": well of course not, they're  publishers not researchers. But copyrights do apply.

What is your concept of an "official peer-reviewing process"? Sending your draft to some friends is, actually not "peer review", there, for one, any response is optional and not mandatory as it is with a journal's structure: you ignore or inadequately address reviewers comments at your peril: ignoring a friends comments doesn't come with any issues. Those friends aren't "reviewers" at that point, they're co-authors.

Bottom line is I agree with public access to publicly funded work, but in a manner that preserves the value of that work. Peer review and neutral editing adds and preserves value: Early drafts can be quite the mess.

You like to comment on wolves. Take everything you said and show me how that works with peer review of the Wyoming Wolf Plan. That peer-reviewing process did not rely on your window sill or anyone else's.

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(TravisNWood @ Mar. 06 2013, 10:49 am)
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(wildlifenate @ Mar. 06 2013, 9:35 am)
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. . . What do you mean the official peer reviewing process may not be done through those magazines?  Journals won't publish until their volunteer reviewers sign off on some research.  That is and always has been the peer review. . . .

You are quite mistaken. Peer review of the Wyoming Wolf Management Plan was done entirely without the involvement of magazines such as Science.

that's a different process and goal.  of course THAT peer-review process did not involve journals...because it wasn't to be published in a journal.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 4:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am not sure what to do about the current situation.  I am a consumer of scientific journals since I work in a research job.  My professional library is about as close to a virtual library as I have seen.  They make lots of journals in our field we need available electronically so I can just get copies of them.  For the others, Interlibrary Loan works just fine.  If I didn't have that I'd be SOL.

I'd also love to check out books electronically too.  

I am not sure how to get there but that's what I like and would like.
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