Open access, peer review, grants and other academic conundrums 2012-04-18


[Use the link above to access a blog post from David Colquhoun, Professor, UCL following his participation in a debate that took place in December 2011. The blog post summarizes the debate entitled,”Data Debate: is transparency bad for science” and includes “cartoon minutes.” As the blog notes the cartoons were contributed by the Bishop Hill Blog. The debate, as noted by the current blogger is also available from YouTube. The blogger also addressed other OA topics of interest.] ... “We all agreed that papers should be open for anyone to read, free. Monbiot and I both thought that raw data should be available on request, though O’Neill and Walport had a few reservations about that... A great deal of time and money would be saved if data were provided on request. It shouldn’t need a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and the time and energy spent on refusing FOIA requests is silly. It simply gives the impression that there is something to hide (Climate scientists must be ruthlessly honest about data)... A few days ago, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published a report which says (para 6.6) ... ‘The Government . . . is committed to ensuring that publicly-funded research should be accessible free of charge.‘ That’s good, but how it can be achieved is less obvious. Scientific publishing is, at the moment, an unholy mess. It’s a playground for profiteers. It runs on the unpaid labour of academics, who work to generate large profits for publishers. That’s often been said before, recently by both George Monbiot (Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist) and by me (Publish-or-perish: Peer review and the corruption of science). Here are a few details... Mark Walport has told me that ... ‘The Wellcome Trust is currently spending around £3m pa on OA publishing costs and, looking at the Wellcome papers that find their way to UKPMC, we see that around 50% of this content is routed via the ‘hybrid option’; 40% via the ‘pure’ OA journals (e.g. PLoS, BMC etc), and the remaining 10% through researchers self-archiving their author manuscripts... UCL pays Elsevier the astonishing sum of €1.25 million, for access to its journals. And that’s just one university. That price doesn’t include any print editions at all, just web access and there is no open access. You have to have a UCL password to see the results. Elsevier has, of course,been criticised before, and not just for its prices. Elsevier publish around 2700 scientific journals. UCL has bought a package of around 2100 journals. There is no possibility to pick the journals that you want. Some of the journals are used heavily (‘use’ means access of full text on the web). In 2010, the most heavily used journal was The Lancet, followed by four Cell Press journals... [use the link above to see the chart described here.] Most of the journals are hardly used at all. Among all Elsevier journals, 251 were not accessed even once in 2010. Among the 2068 journals bought by UCL, 56 were never accessed in 2010 and the most frequent number of accesses per year is between 1 and 10 (the second bin in the histogram, below). 60 percent of journals have 300 or fewer usages in 2010, Above 300, the histogram tails on up to 51878 accesses for The Lancet. The remaining 40 percent of journals are represented by the last bin (in red). The distribution is exceedingly skewed. The median is 187, i.e. half of the journals had fewer than 187 usages in 2010), but the mean number of usages (which is misleading for such a skewed distribution, was 662 usages)... UCL bought 65 journals from NPG in 2010. They get more use than Elsevier, though surprisingly three of them were never accessed in 2010, and 17 had fewer than 1000 accesses in that year. The median usage was 2412, better than most. The leader, needless to say, was Nature itself, with 153,321... The situation is even more extreme for 248 OUP [Oxford University Press] journals, perhaps because many of the journals are arts or law rather than science. The most frequent (modal) usage of was zero (54 journals), followed by 1 to 10 accesses (42 journals) 64 percent of journals had fewer than 200 usages, and the 36 percent with over 200 are pooled in the last (red) bin. The histogram extends right up to 16060 accesses for Brain. The median number of usages in 2010 was 66. So far I haven’t been able to discover the costs of the contracts with OUP or Nature Publishing group. It seems that the university has agreed to confidentiality clauses. This itself is a shocking lack of transparency... Almost all of these journals are not open access... The outcry about hidden results has resulted in a new generation of truly open access journals that are open to everyone from day one. But if you want to publish in them you have to pay quite a lot. Furthermore, although all these journals are free to read, most of them do not allow free use of the material they publish. Most are operating under all-rights-reserved copyrights. In 2009 under 10 percent of open access journals had true Creative Commons licence. Nature Publish



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.npg oa.pubmed oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.licensing oa.comment oa.government oa.ssh oa.legislation oa.advocacy oa.signatures oa.petitions oa.boycotts oa.elsevier oa.libraries oa.plos oa.peer_review oa.arxiv oa.metrics oa.usage oa.quality oa.funding oa.librarians oa.prices oa.hybrid oa.climate oa.reports oa.funders oa.fees oa.wellcome oa.bmc oa.recommendations oa.benefits oa.budgets oa.oup oa.stem oa.debates oa.libre oa.journals oa.foi



Date tagged:

04/18/2012, 15:36

Date published:

04/16/2012, 16:37