Tag Archives: open access

Scientific publishers take their money from the academic managers, blame them too

Wonderful thread  at HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19114786

Starting with “All this is an excellent ad for sci-hub, which avoids most of the serious drawbacks of publishers like Elsevier. It was interesting how that was relegated to a veiled comment at the end, “or finding access in other channels”. But basically if the mainstream publishers can’t meet the need, we do need other channels, and right now sci-hub is the only one that actually works at scale.

Then the discussion goes to “Blame the academic administrators who demand publications in top tier journals – the same ones who charge a ton for access.

Or “ in market terms the clients (researchers) manifest a strong preference for other products than those offered by the publishers. Why do they still exist? Does not make any sense, except if we recognize also that the market is perturbed

Enjoy the thread!  It shows that people think better than, you choose:  pirates who fight  only for the media corporation rights,  gold OA diggers who ask for more money than legacy publishers, etc…

UPDATE: for those who don’t know me, I’m for OA and Open Science. I do what I support. I am not for legacy publishers. I don’t believe in the artificial distinction between green OA, which is said to be for archiving, and gold OA which is said to be for publishing. I’m for arXiv and other really needed services for research communication.

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What’s new around Open Access and Open Science? [updated]

In the last year I was not very much interested into Open Access and Open Science. There are several reasons, I shall explain them. But before: what’s new?

My reasons were that:

  • I’m a supporter of OA, but not under the banner of gold OA. You know that I have a very bad impression about the whole BOAI thing, which introduced the false distinction between gold which is publication and green which is archival. They succeeded to delay the adoption of what researchers need (i.e. basically older than BOAI inventions, like arXiv) and the recognition that the whole academic publication system is working actively against the researchers interests. Academic managers are the first to be blamed about this, because they don’t have the excuse that they work for a private entity which has to make money no matter the price. Publishers are greedy, OK, but who gives them the money?
  • Practically, for the working researcher, we can now publish in any place, no matter how close or anachronically managed, because we can find anything on Sci-Hub, if we want. So there is no reason to fight for more OA than this. Except for those who make money from gold OA…
  • I was very wrong with my efforts and attempts to use corporate social media for scientific communication.
  • Bu still, I believe strongly in the superiority of validation over peer-review. Open Science is the future.

I was also interested in the implications for OA and OS of the new EU Copyright Directive. I expressed my concern that again it seems that nobody cares about the needs of researchers (as opposed to publishers and corporations in general) and I asked some questions which interest me and nobody else seems to ask: will the new EU Copyright Directive affect arXiv or Figshare?  The problem I see is related to automatic filters, or to real ways the researchers may use these repositories.  See for example here for a discussion.  In   Sept 2018 I filed requests for answers to arXiv and to Figshare. For me at least the answers will be very interesting and I hope them to be as bland as possible, in the sense that there is nothing to worry about.

So from my side, that’s about all, not much. I feel like except the gold OA money sucking there’s nothing new happening. Please tell me I’m very wrong and also what can I do with my research output, in 2019.

UPDATE: I submitted two days ago a comment at Julia Reda post Article 13 is back on – and it got worse, not better. About the implications for the research articles repositories, the big ones, I mean, the ones which are used millions of times by many researchers. I waited patiently, either for the appearance of the comment or for a reaction. Any reaction. For me this is a clear answer: pirates fight for the freedom of the corporation to share in its walled garden the product of a publisher. The rest is immaterial for them. They pirates not explorers.

The Library of Alexandra

“Hint: Sci-Hub was created to open papers that are not available online at all. You cannot find these papers in Google or in open access” [tweet by @Sci_Hub]

“Public Resource will make extracts of the Library of Alexandra available shortly, will present the issues to publishers and governments.” [tweet by Carl Malamud]

 

 

Open peer review is something others should do, Open science is something you could do

This post follows Peer review is not independent validation, where it is argued that independent validation is one of the pillars of the scientific method. Peer review is only a part of the editorial process. Of course that peer review is better than nothing, but it is only a social form of validation, much less rigorous than what the scientific method asks.

If the author follows the path of Open science, then the reader has the means to perform an independent validation. This is great news, here is why.

It is much easier to do Open science than to change the legacy publishing system.

Many interesting alternatives to the legacy publishing have been proposed already. There is green OA, there is gold OA (gold is for $), there is arXiv.org. There are many other versions, but the main problem is that research articles are not considered really serious unless they are peer reviewed. Legacy publishing provides this, it is actually the only service they provide. People are used to review for established journals and any alternative publishing system has to be able to compete with that.

So, if you want to make an OA platform, it’s not serious unless you find a way to make other people to peer review the articles. This is hard!

People are slowly understanding that peer review is not what we should aim for. We are so used with the idea that peer review is that great thing which is part of the scientific method. It is not! Independent validation is the thing, peer review is an old, unscientific way (very useful, but not useful enough to allow research finding to pass the validation filter).

The alternative, which is Open science, is that the authors of research findings make open all the data, procedures, programs, etc, everything they have. In this way, any other group of researchers, anybody else willing to try can validate those research findings.

The comparison is striking. The reviewers of the legacy publishing system don’t have magical powers, they just read the article, they browse the data provided by the very limited article format and they make an opinion about the credibility of the research findings. In the legacy system, the reviewer does not have the means to validate the article.

In conclusion, it is much simpler to do Open science than to invent a way to convince people to review your legacy articles. It is enough to make open your data, your programs, etc. It is something that you, the author can do.

You don’t have to wait for the others to do a review for you. Release your data, that’s all.

Peer review is not independent validation

People tend to associate peer review with science. As an example, even today there are still many scientists who believe that an arXiv.org article is not a true article, unless it has been peer reviewed. They can’t trust the article, without reading it first, unless it passed the peer review, as a part of the publishing process.

Just because a researcher puts a latex file in the arXiv.org (I continue with the example), it does not mean that the content of the file has been independently validated, as the scientific method demands.

The part which slips from the attention is that peer review is not independent validation.

Which means that a peer reviewed article is not necessarily one which passes the scientific method filter.

This simple observation is, to me, the key for understanding why so many research results communicated in peer reviewed articles can not be reproduced, or validated, independently. The scale of this peer reviewed article rot is amazing. And well known!

Peer review is a part of the publishing process. By itself, it is only a social validation. Here is why: the reviewers don’t try to validate the results from the article because they don’t have the means to do it in the first place. They do have access only to a story told by the authors. All the reviewers can do is to read the article and to express an opinion about it’s credibility, based on the reviewers experience, competence (and biases).

From the point of view of legacy publishers, peer review makes sense. It is the equivalent of the criteria used by a journalist in order to decide to publish something or not. Not more!

That is why it is very important for science to pass from peer review to validation. This is possible only in an Open Science frame. Once more (in this Open(x) fight) the medical science editors lead. From “Journal Editors To Researchers: Show Everyone Your Clinical Data” by Harlan Krumholz, a quote:

“[…] last Wednesday, the editors of the leading medical journals around the world made a proposal that could change medical science forever. They said that researchers would have to publicly share the data gathered in their clinical studies as a condition of publishing the results in the journals. This idea is now out for public comment.

As it stands now, medical scientists can publish their findings without ever making available the data upon which their conclusions were based.

Only some of the top journals, such as The BMJ, have tried to make data sharing a condition of publication. But authors who didn’t want to comply could just go elsewhere.”

This is much more than simply saying “peer review is bad” (because is not, only that it is not a part of the scientific method, it is a part of the habits of publishers). It is a right step towards Open Science. I repeat here my opinion about OS, in the shortest way I can:

There are 2 parts involved in a research communication:   A (author, creator, the one which has something to disseminate) and R (reader). The legacy publishing process introduces a   B (reviewer).  A puts something in a public place, B expresses a public opinion about this and R uses B’s opinion as a proxy for the value of A’s thing, in order to decide if A’s thing is worthy of R’s attention or not.  Open Access is about the direct interaction of A with R, Open Peer-Review is about transparent interaction of A with B, as seen by R and Validation (as I see it) is improving the format of A’s communication so that R could make a better decision than the social one of counting on B’s opinion.

That’s it! The reader is king and the author should provide everything to the reader, for the reader to be able to independently validate the work. This is the scientific method at work.

 

How I hit a wall when I used the open access and open source practices when applying for a job

UPDATE 11.10.2015. What happened since the beginning of the “contest”? Nothing. My guess is that they are going to follow the exact literary sense of their announcement. It is a classic sign of cronyism. They write 3 times that they are going to judge according to the file submitted (the activity of the candidate as it looks from the file), but they don’t give other criteria than the ones from an old law. In my case I satisfy these criteria, of course, but later on they write about “candidates considered eligible”, which literary means candidates that an anonymous board considers they are eligible and not simply eligible according to the mentioned criteria.

Conclusion: this is not news, is dog bites man.

I may be wrong. But in the case I’m right then the main subject (namely what happens in a real situation with open access practices in case of a job opening) looks like a frivolous, alien complaint.

The split between:
– a healthy, imaginative, looking to the future community of individuals and
– a kafkian old world of bureaucratic cronies
is growing bigger here in my country.

__________

UPDATE 14.10.2015: Suppositions confirmed. The results have been announced today, only verbally, the rest is shrouded in mystery. Absolutely no surprise. Indeed, faced with the reality of local management, my comments about open access and open source practices are like talking about a TV show to cavemen.

Not news.

There is a statement I want to make, for those who read this and have only access to info about Romanians from the media, which is, sadly, almost entirely negative.

It would be misleading to judge the local mathematicians (or other creative people, say) from these sources. There is nothing wrong with many Romanian people. On the contrary, these practices which show textbook signs of corruption are typical for the managers of state institutions from this country. They are to be blamed. What you see in the media is the effect of the usual handshake between bad leadership and poverty.

Which sadly manifest everywhere in the state institutions of Romania, in ways far beyond the ridicule.

So next time when you shall interact with one such manager, don’t forget who they are and what they are really doing.

I am not going to pursue a crusade against corruption in Romania, because I have better things to do. Maybe I’m wrong and what is missing is more people doing exactly this. But the effects of corrupt practices is that the state institution becomes weaker and weaker. So, by psycho historic reasons 🙂 there is no need for a fight with dying institutions.

Let’s look to the future, let’s do interesting stuff!

________________________

This is real: there are job openings at the Institute of Mathematics of the Romanian academy, announced by the pdf file

http://www.imar.ro/~cjoita/IMAR/Concurs-anunt-2015.pdf

The announce is in Romanian but you may notice that they refer to a law from 2003, which asks for a CV, research memoire, list of publications and ten documents, from kindergarden to PhD. On paper.

That is only the ridicule of bureaucracy, but the real problems were somewhere else.

There is no mention of criteria of selection, members of the committee, but in the announcement is written 3 times that every candidate’s work will be considered only as it appears from looking at the file submitted.

They also ask that the scientific, say, part of the submission to be sent by email to two addresses which you can grasp from the announcement.

So I did all the work and I hit a wall when I submitted by email.

I sent them the following links:

– my homepage which has all the info needed (including links to all relevant work)
http://imar.ro/~mbuliga/

– link to my arxiv articles
http://arxiv.org/a/buliga_m_1
because all my published articles and all my cited articles, published or not) are available at arXiv

– link to the chemlambda repository for the programming, demos, etc part
https://github.com/chorasimilarity/chemlambda-gui/blob/gh-pages/dynamic/README.md

I was satisfied because I finished this, when I got a message from DanTimotin@imar.ro telling me that I have to send them, as attachment, the pdf files of at least 5 relevant articles.

In the paper file I put 20+ of these articles (selected from 60+), but they wanted also the pdf files.

I don’t have the pdfs of many legacy published articles because they are useless for open access, you can’t distribute them publicly.
Moreover I keep the relevant work I do as open as possible.

Finally, how could I send the content of the github repository? Or the demos?

So I replied by protesting about the artificial difference he makes between a link and the content available at that link and I sent a selection of 20 articles with links to their arXiv version.

He replied by a message where he announced that if I want my submission to be considered then I have to send 5 pdfs attached.

I visited physically Dan Timotin to talk and to understand why a link is different from the content available to that link.

He told me that these are the rules.

He told that he is going to send the pdfs to the members of the committees and it might happen that they don’t have access to the net when they look for the work of the candidate.

He told me that they can’t be sure that the arXiv version is the same as the published version.

He has nothing to say about the programming/demo/animations part.

He told that nobody will read the paper file.

I asked if he is OK if I make public this weird practice and he agreed to that.

Going back to my office, I arrived to find 9 pdfs of the published articles. In many other cases my institute does not have a subscription to journals where my articles appeared, so I don’t think that is fair to be asked to buy back my work, only because of the whims of one person.

Therefore I sent to Dan Timotin a last message where I attached these 9 pdfs, I explained that I can’t access the others, but I firmly demand that all the links sent previously to be sent to the (mysterious, anonymous, net deprived, and lacking public criteria) committee, otherwise I would consider this an abuse.

I wrote that I regret this useless discussion provoked by the lack of transparency and by the hiding behind an old law, which should not stop a committee of mathematicians to judge the work of a candidate as it is, and not as it appears by an abuse of filtering.

After a couple of hours he replied that he will send the files and the links to the members of the committee.

I have to believe his word.

That is what happens, in practice, with open access and open science, at least in some places.

What could be done?

Should I wait for the last bureaucrat to stop supporting passively the publishing industry, by actively opposing open access practices?

Should I wait for all politicians to pass fake PhDs under the supervision of a very complacent local Academia?

Should I feel ashamed of being abused?