nav search
Data Centre Software Security DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes
BOFH
Lectures

back to article
EU wants open science publication by 2020

Anonymous Coward

That's eminently reasonable

That's the way it should be anyway - that's the whole point of the word "public".

The fact that some have made a business out of reselling content paid for by others is not an argument IMHO. There is no way to defend the sometimes absolutely abhorrently high fees well, not anymore now hosting costs so little) and as this gets in the way of re-using such research is yet another reason that I'd agree with this.

However ...

Someone will have to pay for managing and hosting this data. Who will pay that bill?

41
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: That's eminently reasonable

> Someone will have to pay for managing and hosting this data. Who will pay that bill?

you mean who pays for arxiv.org? Cornell University Library. In all honesty, hosting one such site is probably cheaper than subscribing to 2 or 3 journals in only one of the fields covered by arxiv (yes, subscriptions have outrageous prices)

34
0
Silver badge

Re: That's eminently reasonable

There are many open access journals already, where the author pays for a publication, which should contribute to the costs of running such a site. Fees vary wildly, I must say. Many classical journals are also offering the option of open access, and often allow the author to have a copy on his or her website, typically with a statement that this has been made available only for research and education purposes, and with clear copyright statement.

Making data sets (and code) publicly available is also a trend we already see in science. Very handy for those who which to replicate results.

I think the move by the EU makes sense.

15
0
Silver badge

Re: That's eminently reasonable

> Fees vary wildly, ...

Yes, and many are free of charge.

As peer reviewing is unpaid anyway, costs are pretty much running a server and (importantly!) making sure the material can not disappear under any circumstances.

7
0

Re: That's eminently reasonable

Hosting and data costs? Of a load of text files? Fuck it I'll pay for it myself and work an extra hour each week, if that's really an issue ;-)

I'd suggest some kind of peer replication though, something like bit torrent, the cost of having access to a paper is paying to host a copy. Certainly within private networks like JANET (UK) the cost will be measured in several dozens of pounds extra, with savings of upto £10k/year/title from those cheeky fucked at Elsevier

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: That's eminently reasonable

you mean who pays for arxiv.org? Cornell University Library. In all honesty, hosting one such site is probably cheaper than subscribing to 2 or 3 journals in only one of the fields covered by arxiv (yes, subscriptions have outrageous prices)

That's fine if the Uni can do that, and your argument holds water in that it'll be less costly anyway. I just didn't want to discount the fact that all that good stuff *does* have to live somewhere, that's all.

1
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: That's eminently reasonable

Many classical journals ... often allow the author to have a copy on his or her website...

That seems a reasonable concession to the person who created the work in the first place.

11
0
Paris Hilton

Re: That's eminently reasonable

No wonder Springer Verlag is suing the adblockers. Their "revenue streams" are going to dry up.

Sniff, sniff. Not. I wonder how little of that money makes it through the paywalls, for research already paid for by the public, in one way or another?

I can see them recovering storage and admin costs (basically IT CODB), but the electronic extortion they currently commit needs to stop.

Could also be the paywalls are means to control what we see? Paris wants to know...

3
0
Silver badge

Re: That's eminently reasonable

I just didn't want to discount the fact that all that good stuff *does* have to live somewhere, that's all.

Well the EU press release doesn't actually define what "open access" really means in practical terms and what measures would satisfy the requirement!

Hence I suggest a publication could satisfy the demand in a number of ways:

1. The author is permitted to host a copy of the paper on their microsite hosted on their research establishment's website. Otherwise everything is as at present.

2. After a post-publication closed period the paper is freely available for a year (aside: choose a number) before it gets pulled from the website - this already seems to happen a lot with conference papers (I'm ignoring the academic worth of such papers here, just making an observation).

So I would agree the big question is about where and how papers will be retained and open access maintained over the decades; I can see that existing publishers will continue to demand a fee from authors for the long-term hosting of their paper, but because there will be a significant reduction in reproduction/access fee's, these hosting fee's are likely to be higher.

0
0

The results of research should be freely available to the group that paid for the research to be done.

If tax payers fund research then they should be able to view that without paying again.

25
0
Silver badge
Megaphone

> The results of research should be freely available to the group that paid for the research to be done.

Yes, and especially: The results of all research funded by the public should IMMEDIATELY be freely available to EVERYONE.

8
1
Headmaster

Principally, yes...

However:

It's actually been long-standing and, I find, quite reasonable practise that give the principal investigator and affiliated researchers exclusive right for 1-2 years.

The reason is so they can get first pick at results, get their papers out, prepare for the Nobel acceptance speech, etc.

Then the data becomes public - if it was funded by the public.

Elsevier is simply a leech that interposed itself here - and if they Wiki article can be believed with less than ethical means. To hell with them, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I've worked closely with scientists in the Antarctic - they are often down there for long periods of time collecting their data. If they had to make it available immediately, while they're still "stuck" down on the Ice, they would come back to others having published the all-important papers, while they froze their butts off.

19
0
Silver badge

Re: Principally, yes...

Elsevier is simply a leech

A leech that makes about £2bn a year from publishing scientific journals, with an operating margin of 37%. And that's after their corporate expenses - gross margin is about double that, showing how little it costs them to make so much, on account of the fact that they don't contribute to the research that they profit from.

As the article says, expect much lobbying, along with whining that free publication will cause the Earth to stop turning, contribute to climate change etc etc.

I think its clear that the day of commercial scientific journal is coming to a well deserved (and belated) close. So long, Elsevier, go find another market to exploit.

22
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: Principally, yes...

Then again, do you really want Daily Mail journos interpreting raw data from, say, a study on the link between cancer and mass immigration? They wouldn't understand the phrase "not statistically significant" if you bludgeoned them into unconsciousness with a hard-backed copy of Greene and d'Oliveira.

4
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: Principally, yes...

Then again, do you really want Daily Mail journos interpreting raw data from, say, a study on the link between cancer and mass immigration?

Definitely, because they'll do that exactly *once* before they'll be written into the ground by all the other journos who would have open access to the exact same data.

The Daily Fail doesn't need much in the way of credibility (proven by what they write about), but being utterly wrong is painful enough to be worth avoiding.

7
1
Silver badge

Re: Principally, yes...

"I've worked closely with scientists in the Antarctic - they are often down there for long periods of time collecting their data. If they had to make it available immediately, while they're still "stuck" down on the Ice, they would come back to others having published the all-important papers, while they froze their butts off."

It doesn't seem to me that the request is that data be made available as soon as it's collected. It seems to me that the published paper is what's being asked to made public as soon as practically possible. So your chilly Antarctic friends should have nothing to worry about.

9
0
Coat

Re: Principally, yes...

"Greene and d'Oliveira"

Armitage et al in my case. Good, heavy, 850 page volume published by Wiley. Plenty of momentum.

1
0
Silver badge

Lame clarification of my post: I meant that the papers (not the data!) should be public immediately and to everyone. I am well aware of the problem with opening data before the papers are out.

The data should be out to verify/reproduce the published results.

2
0

Already happening...

"If tax payers fund research then they should be able to view that without paying again."

Actually that is happening in the UK anyway - researchers have to publish open access in order to be assessed for public funding under the next REF assessment (Research Excellence Framework). The Research Councils are also moving from encouraging open access to mandating it as part of their funding conditions (some like the medical research council are more advanced than the arts or social sciences). And it is already a condition of EU Horizon 2020 funding and many medical charities (Wellcome, CRUK etc).

The challenge is replicating the peer reviewed quality assurance of journals and funding the skills and infrastructure to properly curate and store. Under the current system the UK alone produces about 150k articles every year and the world wide total is somewhere around 3 million articles a year (and growing at around 3-5% pa) and all articles are not equal...

4
0

Re: Principally, yes...

"but being utterly wrong is painful enough to be worth avoiding."

Never stopped Fleet St before, though, did it ....

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Already happening...

"Actually that is happening in the UK anyway - researchers have to publish open access in order to be assessed for public funding under the next REF assessment (Research Excellence Framework). The Research Councils are also moving from encouraging open access to mandating it as part of their funding conditions"

Hang on, did our government do something good when i wasnt looking? Bl**dy hell ...

oh, wait - was it a holiday at the time, and all the politicians were away yet again?

3
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: Principally, yes...

"before they'll be written into the ground by all the other journos" which the Daily Fail readership will never get to see. Heck ~85% of the Daily Fail readership even claim to never watch anything from the BBC ever!

1
0
Anonymous Coward

"Yes, and especially: The results of all research funded by the public should IMMEDIATELY be freely available to EVERYONE."

This assumes that the subject of the research itself is also publicly available (or publicly funded), which I suppose in science it very often is. Don't forget, however, that the humanities have also jumped on this 'open data/open culture' bandwagon, and they do quite a lot of research on stuff which is subject to copyright. Now, the authors of this research are most welcome to make their papers freely available, but when it comes to publishing the data they've researched, well, copyright restrictions become problematic, and in many cases those copyright restrictions are right and proper.

So it's not necessarily as simple as all that, despite data mining exceptions and the rest.

0
0

Re: Already happening...

"Hang on, did our government do something good when i wasnt looking? Bl**dy hell .."

Don't worry. The Wellcome Trust started it and uk gov followed suit once it became stonkingly obvious it was the right thing to do.

4
0
Silver badge

In some fields, it's almost de facto the case already. Everybody and their uncle put their article on arXiv.org before even sending it for review to a publication, and more often than not, the journal allows them to leave it there. In the first place, just the review process can take a year, and then another until the paper is actually published. Researchers generally want to make sure to put their name on the result as soon as possible before anybody else can.

Having open publications is really very important though. If the institution where you worked lacked the funds to subscribe to the top publications, it could be a real pain just to figure out what the most recent results in the field were. Even as the author, you could miss on the precious references to your paper if it wasn't accessible. I remember reading about a paper that might have been relevant to mine, but when I learnt I needed to pay 50 bucks for a copy, I simply didn't bother.

8
0

> ...when I learnt I needed to pay 50 bucks for a copy, I simply didn't bother.

There are dubious Russian servers, friends at institutions that happen to have access, ...

But it is sad that we have to resort to such measures. Especially for finding out what has already been done and is known in some area (as opposed to getting a couple of crucial papers) it is absolutely terrible. Paying 40 [€£$] for a paper you spend a couple of minutes with before concluding it is not relevant/interesting... Seriously?

11
0
Silver badge
Pirate

> There are dubious Russian servers, ...

So booksc (dot) org is dubious?

Some people say[weasel words] it is quite useful[citation needed].

3
0
Silver badge
Childcatcher

In some fields, it's almost de facto the case already.

This brings up my question which is why is this restricted to scientific articles? Wouldn't it make at least as much sense to stipulate this for all papers coming out of publicly funded academia?

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Murica to follow suit in ...

Never.

6
1
Silver badge

Re: Murica to follow suit in ...

It doesn't have to. The American authors will just use an EU server.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Murica to follow suit in ...

If the EU practices joined up government, it will as the OA requirement will be in TTIP...

0
0
Silver badge

Legal workaround?

I can understand that an author who was desperate/keen to have a paper published would sign the copyright away to Elsevier, etc. However, I'm sure the contactual agreement would not say that they couldn't do any more research in that field again. So, if an author wants any previous papers to be made public, all they'd need to do is "repeat the research" one weekend and produce a very similar (but not identically worded) paper on Monday morning.

0
10
Anonymous Coward

Re: Legal workaround?

all they'd need to do is "repeat the research" one weekend and produce a very similar (but not identically worded) paper on Monday morning

What you propose constitutes rather serious research misconduct: you do not publish essentially the same results more than once.

8
1
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Legal workaround?

> ...all they'd need to do is "repeat the research" one weekend...

Science: you may want to read about it.

11
1
Silver badge

Re: Legal workaround?

"I can understand that an author who was desperate/keen to have a paper published would sign the copyright away to Elsevier, etc"

There are already journals which will publish anything as long as you pay them.

Elsevier is a major leech and their business model needs not only discouraging, but outlawing.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Legal workaround?

"There are already journals which will publish anything as long as you pay them."

err ... and journos/newspaper editors too ..

0
0
Silver badge

Short-term protection

The original copyright term was 14 years, utility models are still as short as six years. If the research institute wants to publish for profit, let them, but it goes public after something like 4-5 years.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Short-term protection

"If the research institute wants to publish for profit, let them, but it goes public after something like 4-5 years."

They don't profit. The way the academic publishing world works is:

0) (Depends on field) Researcher gets grant for research,

1) Researcher writes paper.

2) Researcher submits paper for free to a journal. Journals are ranked based on prestige, so that 'better' journals are often those with long histories and were bought by for-profit publishers in the past who then have been putting the prices for subscribing up.

3) Handling editor gives paper a look over for free, decides on who is a good referee.

4) Sends paper to referee who looks at it for free, says whether the results look good, look correct, are good enough for the journal.

5) Paper is accepted by journal.

6) Journals adds page numbers and its title to the top, then puts the pdf on its website.

7) Libraries at research institutions that the researchers from stage 1 work for hand over thousands to access these papers.

8) Trebles all round at journal's board room.

The new model (open access)

0) (Depends on field) Researcher gets grant for research,

1) Researcher writes paper.

2) Researcher submits paper for free to a journal. Journals are ranked based on prestige, so that 'better' journals are often those with long histories and were bought by for-profit publishers in the past who then have been putting the prices for subscribing up.

3) Handling editor gives paper a look over for free, decides on who is a good referee.

4) Sends paper to referee who looks at it for free, says whether the results look good, look correct, are good enough for the journal.

5) Paper is accepted by journal.

5a) NOT HERE BEFORE: researcher hands over thousands to publisher for open access.

6) Journals adds page numbers and its title to the top, then puts the pdf on its website.

7) MODIFIED: Libraries at research institutions that the researchers from stage 1 work for hand over thousands to access these papers, because not all the papers in the journal are open access so they still have to do this.

8) Quadruples all round at journal's board room.

Note that 7 still happens because unless everyone is open access journals still have to be bought. Also note that it's not clear whether stage 5a is preferable to 7, in the sense that it might well cost institutions more under the hybrid model.

How it should work:

0) (Depends on field) Researcher gets grant for research,

1) Researcher writes paper.

2) Researcher places paper on preprint server, such as the arXiv.

3) Handling editors for that area of the arXiv look at paper, decide if it warrants being quality controlled. Note that the paper would still be there, but only some papers would be assessed in this model.

4) Handling editors send paper to a few referees, one for peer review and a few others for a quality score.

5) Refereeing process works as before, with changes made to paper.

6) Paper gets given quality score, which can be used on CVs and promotion committees in the same way as impact factor and h-indices and other metric bullshit is used now.

7) Nobody pays for anything.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Short-term protection

0) (Depends on field) Researcher gets grant for research,

1) Researcher writes paper.

You appear to miss a few minor steps here:

0.(0)1 Researcher (or more realistically her/his postdocs and students) performs the research

...

0.9(9) Researcher performs the research

0
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: Short-term protection

Also... more metrics bullshit? Really? That's a good thing?

I quite like the gatekeeper approach, for that you need funds, for that you need subscriptions. On top of that, there are still printed journals and this requires a lot of money to achieve. Agreed the current model is too expensive, but the possible deviousness of publishing houses... I hate to think what they'll come up with.

2
0
bed

Re: Short-term protection

I think you missed out a step between 0 and 1...

0.5) Does some research

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Short-term protection

" On top of that, there are still printed journals and this requires a lot of money to achieve."

In the department that I work in, NOBODY bothers with the printed journals. Everything is accessed online apart from the really old stuff which hasn't been digitised yet.

Printed stuff comes in, gets filed in the library and ends up with enough dust on top to show it was never touched since filing. It's easier to search and crossreference online and once you've done that downloading the PDF is only one more step.

3
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: Short-term protection

Don't tell the advertisers that. They think the latest issue of Nature sits handsomely in every fashionable reading room in every university.

1
0
Silver badge

on the results of publicly funded research

Stuff in Uni and State funded only or all papers?

0
0

Re: on the results of publicly funded research

Research where a component of the funding is public. Given that the overwhelming majority of european universities and research institutions are publicly owned and operated, this amounts to all european research, unless the people commissioning the research want to defray the costs of running the buildings/support staff etc. Which could still happen.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: on the results of publicly funded research

Just because an institution is publicly funded doesn't mean that all the research is publicly funded.

1
0

Re: on the results of publicly funded research

In the UK at least, universities are not publicly owned/operated - they are independent charities. Similarly for most (but not all) research institutions. There are very few publicly owned research institutions left, most were closed or sold off during the 80s/90s.

They are dependent however on public funding for most of their research. Industrial research is a relatively small component. The only exception maybe some areas of medical research where the huge medical research charities (Wellcome, Cancer Research, etc) outspend the gov contribution, although normally (hopefully) in complementary rather than competitive ways.

2
0

Re: on the results of publicly funded research

You're right. I did mean to put "funded" in there somewhere too. Point still stands. Even in the rare cases the people commissioning the research aren't already publicly funded (a research council, for example) or are re-distributing at least public funding (most charities), it's going to be very hard to argue the public sector didn't fund at least some of the research given its pervasiveness across the sector.

0
0

Should have always been the case

I foresee, however, a massive legal challenge to this. Elsevier won't go into the night quietly.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Should have always been the case

was thinking same thing.

Part of me says there should be a challenge - politicians and civil servants should not allowed to simply take away an entire business model. On the other hand, a far stronger part of me says that it should never have been able to become a business model in the first place .... so no matter what the challenge, the outcome should be free publication of data for which the public paid anyway, so why once the means became available/obvious why has it taken so long for this to happen? {to try to pre-empt downvotes, I'm saying this is a good thing, but like almost everything, it's not entirely 100% black and white}

3
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing