The good, the bad and the iawful: OA, measures of scientific output and bad legislation

What happens in the real world, the one of the  powers that be, as concerns open access, peer-review and communication of research results? Let’s see.

The good:  San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

Funding agencies, institutions that employ scientists, and scientists themselves, all have a desire, and need, to assess the quality and impact of scientific outputs. It is thus imperative that scientific output is measured accurately and evaluated wisely. […]

A number of themes run through these recommendations:

  • the need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations;
  • the need to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published; and
  • the need to capitalize on the opportunities provided by online publication (such as relaxing unnecessary limits on the number of words, figures, and references in articles, and exploring new indicators of significance and impact).

Read it. Disseminate it. Sign it.

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The bad:  The apparatus of research assessment is driven by the academic publishing industry and has become entirely self-serving. In this article by  Peter Coles you find:

The involvement of  a company like Elsevier in this system just demonstrates the extent to which the machinery of research assessment is driven by the academic publishing industry. The REF is now pretty much the only reason why we have to use traditional journals. It would be better for research, better for public accountability and better economically if we all published our research free of charge in open archives. It wouldn’t be good for academic publishing houses, however, so they’re naturally very keen to keep things just the way they are. The saddest thing is that we’re all so cowed by the system that we see no alternative but to participate in this scam.

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The iawful:  From this g+ post by Peter Suber we find out that:

Elsevier, NewsCorp, Facebook, and Yahoo are some of the major players in NetChoice, an industry group “promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.”
http://www.netchoice.org/about/

NetChoice has a watch list for bad legislation that it calls iAWFUL (Internet Advocates’ Watchlist for Ugly Laws). The latest version of iAWFUL includes the White House OA directive plus the state-level OA bills in California, Illinois, and North Dakota. (Yes, there was a bill in ND, and no, NetChoice doesn’t seem to know about the OA bill in NY.)
http://www.netchoice.org/2013-may-iawful/

Insofar as NetChoice has an argument for opposing these OA initiatives, it’s a crude bolus of false assertions and assumptions. I haven’t seen this kind of motivated distortion since the days of PRISM and the Research Works Act.
http://www.netchoice.org/2013-may-iawful/4-forcing-journals-to-make-their-works-publicly-available/

UPDATE (23.05.2013):Elsevier distances itself from open-access article

The publisher Elsevier has disassociated itself from an article by a trade association it belongs to that condemns proposed open-access mandates in several US states.

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So, things happen … eventually. But slowly. I bet many of us, not entangled with the high politics or management in academia, wish for a faster pace.  For my part, I would rather play the Game. It has a very low Coase cost, you know?

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UPDATE:  if you still wonder  about Gold OA, is it good? is it bad?, here is a tweet about Elsevier and iawful:

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