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United States Government Politics Science

New Bill Would Repeal NIH Open Access Policy 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the knowledge-is-power dept.
pigah writes "The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act has been reintroduced into Congress. The bill will ban open access policies in federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These policies require scientists to provide public access to their work if it has been funded with money from an agency with an open access policy. Such policies ensure that the public has access to read the results of research that it has funded. It appears that Representative John Conyers (D-MI), the author of the bill, is doing the bidding of publishing companies who do not want to lose control of this valuable information that they sell for exorbitant fees thereby restricting access by the general public to an essentially public good."
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New Bill Would Repeal NIH Open Access Policy

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    YOU BASTARDS!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      >>>YOU DEMOCRAT BASTARD!

      Fixed that for you. Why would a Democrat Conyers from Michgan want to close-off access to taxpayer-paid-for research? It should be public domain and available to all the U.S. People.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ian Alexander (997430)
        Why does this have to be a partisan issue? Open access to gov-funded research sounds like one of those good ideas that everyone can agree on.
      • by charnov (183495) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @12:43PM (#26856883) Homepage Journal

        Conyers is one of the kookiest politicians we have and is famous for being owned by Disney, RIAA, MPAA and Big Pharma. I am a hardcore Dem but Pelosi and Conyers piss me off. Basically, he's a dick.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by crmarvin42 (652893)
        Why would it matter which party he's a member of. I'm a Republican (and a published scientist) who thinks that Open Access is a great idea. I'll grant that there is ther perception that Rep. are more likely to be owned by big business, but I don't believe that it's actually true. Or more accurately, I believe the difference in corruption rate probably stem more from whether or not your party is the majority or not. No use wasting money on the party that can't get what you want for you.

        This bill was p
  • by cs668 (89484) <cservin@cromagnon.com> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:46AM (#26855699)

    I've gotten so cynical in my old age that I just expect this now, it doesn't even disappoint anymore, we've got the best government money can buy!!!

    I voted for the Dem's this time around, but they're just as bad. Lying on their taxes, getting free drivers/limos, getting million $$ speaking deals as payoffs, and then getting their payoff from special interests to vote against the public good. They just get their payoffs from different groups.

    • by jessica_alba (1234100) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:58AM (#26855765)
      perhaps we should outsource our entire government to buddhist monks
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Racemaniac (1099281)

      because the only way to get votes is not being smart/capable/listening to what the people want

      but campaining/throwing tons of money at it. and there's only one source for that kind of money, so what do you expect?

      • Ban all contributions unless they come from individuals, and limited to $1000 or less.

        • by reboot246 (623534) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:37AM (#26856391) Homepage
          Good idea, but add the provision that a person could donate money ONLY to a candidate he was eligible to vote for. That way, money from outside the area (local, county, state) couldn't influence an election.

          We've had problems with money coming in from other states influencing our gubernatorial elections, and money from other counties influencing our county commission elections. Why should someone who lives 500 or 1000 miles away have a say in a local election?
          • a person could donate money ONLY to a candidate he was eligible to vote for.
            I like this idea, but it needs to be stated the other way: a candidate can only accept campaign money from people who are eligible to vote for him/her. No money from corporations. No money from the main branch of a political party. No money from anyone but voters.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by sumdumass (711423)

              That wouldn't work. It would disconect a good portion of the people. Suppose your a convicted felon and your state took away your voting rights. It doesn't matter what the felony might be, it could be something resulting from teenage drug experimentation or perhaps something resulting from a drunken night of foolishness and you have learned your lessons now. Anyways, you still live in the area and you are still going to be effected by the policies of anyone who goes into office. You should have a right of s

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Malenx (1453851)
          No, make all contributions to federal candidates go into a common political fund that is distributed to all runners in a fair spread. Constant revision of income is based on popularity voting run by federal independent program. All contributions to state candidates go into the same system except on a state level and are spread to all parties involved. All contributions must go through the federal organization are are available to view online at anytime.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ciej (868027)
          yeah, like they're going to pass a bill that hurts their wallet.
        • Here's what we do:

          To pick candidates, we put the smartest 0.1% of the population in a secret lottery. We choose a dozen or so. We then have federal marshalls abduct them for a few days, keeping them secluded until after the election. Each candidate gets 4 hours to write an essay to say what he intends to do if elected. We make the essays anonymous by using numbers to identify the candidates. Essays that identify the author are prohibited. Essays are only revealed to voters in the privacy of the voting booth

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      I voted for the Dem's this time around, but they're just as bad

      Some of this have been saying this for years, but we get dismissed as "libertards" even if we say we think the Libertarian party is too extremist. And this much of this sort of schoolyard behavior comes from people with advanced degrees. So many of them are progressives who seem to think even a healthy distrust of concentrated power (government) is some sort of insanity. If you press them on it, you might get some hand waving about "yes, yes, we need to do something or other about waste and mumble mumble...

    • by ivan256 (17499)

      We threw them out 12 years ago. Apparently that was how long it took for us to forget why we didn't want a Democratic majority anymore. It's the same people with a new face at the top. Do you really think one person can change that much?

      These guys are professionally corrupt. The US citizens threw them out of power, so they systematically discredited all of the leaders of the newly chosen majority. Once the smart people were gone it was only a matter of time before the Republicans that were left screwed thin

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:46AM (#26855703) Homepage

    But my opinion was always if the taxpayers pay for it, the taxpayers own it. Research, patents and discoveries and even software. At a minimum the government should be able to transfer licenses from one branch to another. If your research is that valuable, don't take federal money. A lot of universities are taking federal money for research and then selling those discoveries to companies that sell them back to the taxpayers. It's not always that clean but it just doesn't seem right.

    If you don't like the restrictions, don't sell to the government. I love the way so many institutions, lately including banks, are acting like they're doing us a favor taking federal money. And there's always someone who will yap about government wouldn't be able to get access the best software tools. I doubt that. I'm not talking about making anything the government buys open source, just that government can move software licenses around based on need.

    Funny a legislator from Michigan would be the tool of the publishing industry. I didn't realize textbooks were big business up there.

    • by mr_matticus (928346) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:17AM (#26855889)

      But my opinion was always if the taxpayers pay for it, the taxpayers own it. Research, patents and discoveries and even software.

      They do, in exactly the same sense that the taxpayers own Navy destroyers, which is to say, collectively, with no individualized control.

      If your research is that valuable, don't take federal money. A lot of universities are taking federal money for research and then selling those discoveries to companies that sell them back to the taxpayers. It's not always that clean but it just doesn't seem right.

      That's not what's happening, nor is it federal money being taken. Federally-funded research products lead to patentable inventions. Those patents are held by the government. In order to make that research commercially valuable, additional research is needed and private investment is required to bring the research to a marketable level of maturity. In turn, private entities agree to fund the necessary further research, without which the first sets of patents are worthless.

      If it's a 10 step process from theory to application and the federal project accomplishes the first four steps, and a private party comes in and develops 5 through 10, including patentable material, they have the right to that patent same as anyone else. Sometimes, a corporation will agree to continue/complete the research and pay the government for an exclusive license, which in turn funds further government research projects.

      If you had a proposal to do the research for free, complete the project for free, and freely license the results, you would be an attractive bidder for the exclusive license. In the real world, though, no one ever makes such a proposal, so the whole notion is academic.

      You've got $100 million to spend on research. Government projects don't care about commercialization, which is a difficult, time consuming, and expensive process. The end result is one of two basic scenarios: (1) everybody gets a fair chance at the fruits of the research, and it's the standard patent race to see who can fill in the gaps first, or (2) private party partners with the government, writes a check that (more than) covers the taxpayer expenditure on the research, and gets an exclusive license (but not ownership of the patent).

      The second scenario, so often shortsightedly maligned, generates money for further public research. In effect, when a company purchases the project, it is as if they funded it directly themselves. They get a license to it with varying levels of restrictions, which serves the public interest better than actually granting ownership of the patent, and the upside to this restriction for the corporations is that they didn't bear the risk of the research failing. It's a win-win situation plainly visible for anyone who doesn't have his head up his ass.

      If you don't like the restrictions, don't sell to the government.

      And here you go off the rails entirely. Sell what to the government? Banks? What? Wouldn't be able to access what? Seriously, think things out before posting, people.

      • If your research is that valuable, don't take federal money. A lot of universities are taking federal money for research and then selling those discoveries to companies that sell them back to the taxpayers. It's not always that clean but it just doesn't seem right.

        That's not what's happening, nor is it federal money being taken. Federally-funded research products lead to patentable inventions. Those patents are held by the government. In order to make that research commercially valuable, additional research is needed and private investment is required to bring the research to a marketable level of maturity. In turn, private entities agree to fund the necessary further research, without which the first sets of patents are worthless.

        Sure, I guess the issue is that there are different models for doing that. If researchers didn't patent an invention but simply published the idea openly those inventions are highly likely to still make it in to products. Quite regularly in fact a company will develop a product without holding the patents and only acquire them once they've proved the concept.

        Without the patents those ideas would be in the public domain. The researchers would be providing a service which provides inventions to industry and

      • I think you've taken him too literally.

        He probably meant to say, "If you don't like the restrictions, don't accept money from the government." The same principal applies to the States. Oftentimes Congress will tie restrictions to dollars. For example: requiring the drinking age be raised from 18 to 21 for any state who receives highway funds. The States have the option to not accept the highway money from Congress, and therefore be free from the restriction. The same is true for medical research compan

      • They do, in exactly the same sense that the taxpayers own Navy destroyers, which is to say, collectively, with no individualized control.

        Bullshit. I work for a company with ~100 employees that does meta-analysis across hundreds of studies available on NIH and processes the results using different methodologies. We've uncovered some stuff ourselves and submitted papers to NIH.

        Half this stuff comes from government labs anyway. And we pay our taxes. This stupid law will put us right out of business.

  • This is silly. (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitalderbs (718388) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:48AM (#26855711)
    As a scientist, I don't own the notebooks, datasets, reports and publications I produce with grant funding. The only reason publishers take claim of these articles is because of a copyright transfer agreement article writers must sign when submitting papers to reputable journals. As academics (slowly) move to open format journals, which sustain themselves editorially and through the publications they receive, this will become less of a concern.
    • Re:This is silly. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RDW (41497) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:28AM (#26855943)

      Yes, the journals have a great business model (for them) right now:

      - Publish expensive journal that libraries have little choice about subscribing to.
      - Receive free content from scientists.
      - Force scientists to transfer copyright.
      - Get other scientists to to the hard work of reviewing the articles for free.
      - Add 'page charges' for the privilege of publication.
      - Add extra charges for colour figures (though most articles are downloaded, coloured electrons are more expensive).
      - Charge the authors again for reprints.
      - Whine about 'unfair competition' from Open Access.
      - Pay off our democratic representatives.
      - Profit!

      • by beanyk (230597)

        For the journals I've dealt with, extra charges are only for colours in the printed version.

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:57AM (#26856519)

        The expensive-journal commercial publishers don't have much of a competitive moat: anyone can publish PDFs on the internet with the word "Journal" attached to groups of them, and you've got a journal. If that anyone is well-respected in the field and the PDFs are hosted by a well-known university that also prints off some paper copies for archival, you've got yourself a new journal.

        In my area this revolt against the commercial publishers has been quite rapid and successful. The entire board of editors [sigir.org] left the journal Machine Learning in 2000, setting up the non-profit, open-access JMLR [mit.edu] instead, which is now at least as prestigious (possibly moreso). In more general AI, the open-access, non-profit JAIR [jair.org] now has a much higher impact factor than the old Elsevier journal in the area, "Artificial Intelligence".

      • by javilon (99157) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:58AM (#26856527) Homepage

        Yes, the journals have a great business model (for them) right now:

        - Publish expensive journal that libraries have little choice about subscribing to.
        - Receive free content from scientists.
        - Force scientists to transfer copyright.
        - Get other scientists to to the hard work of reviewing the articles for free.
        - Add 'page charges' for the privilege of publication.
        - Add extra charges for colour figures (though most articles are downloaded, coloured electrons are more expensive).
        - Charge the authors again for reprints.
        - Whine about 'unfair competition' from Open Access.
        - Pay off our democratic representatives.
        - Profit!

        This is one of the few ocasions where a complete and working business plan shows at Slashdot, without the ??? step.

        Congratulations!

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        Actually, most journals will let you skip the charges and have grey pictures in the print version and color pictures in the online version.

        A few major research institutions have made a push toward cutting out the expensive journals, since some companies (Elsevier) have exorbitant charges.

  • by Xeth (614132) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:52AM (#26855733) Journal
    Publishing companies need to make enormous amounts of money so they can do important things like:
    • Paying researchers top dollar for important publications
    • Offering large emoluments for Reviewers
    • Hiring top-notch editors to perform quality typesetting
    • Host powerful commercial publishing access sites, as universities, libraries, and professional organizations are simply unwilling to pitch in.

    ~

    • by HuguesT (84078)

      You forgot

      - Develop and maintain quality software for editing, typesetting and desktop publishing. This is essential for technical work! who is going to write software for typesetting equations, I ask you, if not the big publishing houses?

    • by Adam Hazzlebank (970369) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:14AM (#26855867)
      I smell sarcasm but just in case there are people reading who don't know how academic publishing works...

      Publishing companies need to make enormous amounts of money so they can do important things like:

      • Paying researchers top dollar for important publications

      Scientific authors don't get paid for publications. Often the author has to pay a publication charge for in order to get published. In particular if you have color figures, you often have to pay extra.

      Offering large emoluments for Reviewers

      Referees don't get paid either, they do it out of the kindness of their hearts. :) Actually why they do it is a bit of a mystery, but it keeps you connected with the academic community.

      Hiring top-notch editors to perform quality typesetting

      Many journal force authors to fiddle with their manuscript endlessly until the formatting meets the journals specification.

      Host powerful commercial publishing access sites, as universities, libraries, and professional organizations are simply unwilling to pitch in.

      Not sure what this means...

      • I've long wondered--what is it that academic journals DO, precisely? They don't seem to provide any services that a vanity press couldn't do better and cheaper.

        Is there something I'm unaware of that they merely overcharge massively for, or are they actually the complete and total parasites that they sound like?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RDW (41497)

          "Is there something I'm unaware of that they merely overcharge massively for"

          'Reputation'

          "or are they actually the complete and total parasites that they sound like?"

          Pretty much.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by fruitbane (454488)

          Well, the journals with good reputations lend weight. An extremely highly respected journal like Nature or PNAS lends credibility to the study by publishing it. Better journals theoretically have a more careful peer review process and publish higher quality works.

          I guess the bottom line is, anyone can start a journal and accept papers, but how do you convince people to referee, considering they don't get paid? How do you make sure you get only good papers? If you publish crap papers your journal will get a

        • by Adam Hazzlebank (970369) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:02AM (#26856155)

          I've long wondered--what is it that academic journals DO, precisely? They don't seem to provide any services that a vanity press couldn't do better and cheaper.

          Is there something I'm unaware of that they merely overcharge massively for, or are they actually the complete and total parasites that they sound like?

          They basically provide quality control by making sure that the peer review process happens. A good journal will first screen out a lot of papers that are entirely unsuitable, they'll then find relevant experts in the field to review the paper. You're paper wont get published unless the referee's think it's good enough. So they manage that process. That process is attractive to authors because a good journal garners a lot of respect in the scientific community. More than that it effects how much funding the university gets (universities often get more government funding if they maintain staff with high impact publications). If you want to know more about how impact is measured look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_factor [wikipedia.org] . Impact factor is a fairly stupid way to measure the quality of a paper, but it's what people do. Hopefully we will move towards citation counts or some similar metric, but essentially all these metrics are quite coarse.

          But, back to the main point. Journals do provide a useful service in managing the peer review process. And yes they massively overcharge for that service and often force you to assign copyright to them so they can extract as much money as possible from your work. That's part of the reason people are now looking towards open access... however ironically open access tends to end up costing the author more (as the journal can no longer charge subscription fees they charge higher publication fees).

          • by rnaiguy (1304181) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:55AM (#26856511)
            Top journals like Science and Nature have gotten much better with copyright, allowing authors to maintain copyright over their papers, and releasing content for free after some time (usually ~12 months). Also, personal subscriptions to the top journals (honestly, i don't know of anyone who reads through whole journals other than science, nature, and maybe 1 specialty journal) come down to $5 per issue. It tends to be the small specialists journals and publishers that get nasty with copyright. One of these publishers made us jump through hoops for permission to reprint a figure from an older review in a newer one. The best part is that we were publishing the new review with the same publisher! Also, does anyone know if the current open access policy covers review papers? Those would be of most value to the average taxpayer I believe.
            • Also, does anyone know if the current open access policy covers review papers?

              I'm not subject to the policy so I can't really say for sure... but I'd imagine not. Review papers tend to be done in a researchers "own time" or rather not funded out of a specific project or subject to the policy of a given funding body.

              Remember the open access policy only relates to research funded by the NIH and to support that policy I would imagine the NIH allows you to allocate project funds to cover publication charges. If you're writing a review you might be able to fiddle things so it looks like

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Journals that want high impact factor select articles that will get a lot of citations. This often means somewhat controversial results, rather than good science. Also "good" journals are often crap because of this. Almost every single physics fraud articles are almost exclusively published in nature and science. Its when the work hits the physics reviews that they get uncovered as frauds. Hell nature even published a homeopathy paper!
            • Journals that want high impact factor select articles that will get a lot of citations. This often means somewhat controversial results, rather than good science. Also "good" journals are often crap because of this.

              Yes, I'd agree. The generally agreed definition of "good" is unfortunately "high impact factor". Not "has a fair and honest review process and publishes interesting work". Shame.

        • by rmcd (53236) * on Saturday February 14, 2009 @12:05PM (#26856573)

          Let me elaborate on some of the replies you've received. I think there's a social component that needs to be understood. For background: I was an editor for a few years, have been an associate editor (responsibilities of this position can be significant or minimal, depending on the journal), and referee a reasonable number of papers.

          The best academics view themselves as part of a community to which they can contribute and which in turn makes it possible for them to do the work they want to do (by funding their research, for example). One measure of the value of an academic is the number of others who cite their work. Everyone thinks about citation counts. Authors want to publish in journals that are heavily cited and journals want to publish papers that will be heavily cited. It's not just that top journals publish the best papers, it's also that the best academics send their papers first to the top journals. This creates tremendous inertia in the pecking order of journals with the result that it's *very* hard to raise the perception of a journal's quality. Journal quality is a consideration when publications are evaluated by tenure committees, because journal quality is a rough screen for the quality of the paper. It is not a perfect screen, but it is informative.

          In many cases editors and referees are paid nothing or minimally, and they view themselves as contributing to this community. The best editors are generally highly-regarded academics who think that it is important to publish high-quality papers that others will find useful, i.e. papers that will contribute to the community. In deciding what to publish they use their judgment and they also rely heavily on reviewers. The reviewers in turn try to do a good job because the editors recognize the higher-quality reviewers --- they may ask them to serve on editorial boards, they will write them positive letters at a tenure review, they may take treat their papers more carefully when deciding what to publish.

          There are lots of ways this process can fail: entrenched editors play favorites, referees suck up to editors and authors whose papers they review (even if the process is anonymous, reviewers sometimes reveal themselves informally), there is a "good old boy" network with favoritism, and sometimes outright mistakes get made. But by and large the process works astonishingly well, with the majority of players trying to do the "right" thing. It shouldn't work as well as it does, but OSS shouldn't work as well as it does either.

          The publishers provide continuity in this process. You want to make sure, for example, that a paper published today will be available in 20 years; that if the editor gets hit by a bus, there is institutional backing to keep things going; that the journal has a quality web presence, etc.

          Some publishers are leeches and I am appalled that the NIH access policy might be changed. But I think it will be a while before academia moves to a more open model. There will continue to be a need for a process to certify quality, and there will be a need for long-term access. Commercial journals, with all their flaws, do fill those needs.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Host powerful commercial publishing access sites, as universities, libraries, and professional organizations are simply unwilling to pitch in.

        Not sure what this means...

        The point is that there is a huge mass of free hosting (whoever actually pays for it) for scientific and technical literature. There are a number of open internet journals which provide free peer-reviewed publishing but they do not have the cachet of the for-pay dead-tree operations.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:54AM (#26855745)
    There is a simple answer to the corruption of John Conyers [house.gov]. Call his offices:
    * Washington Office: 202-225-5126
    * Detroit Office: 313-961-5670
    * Trenton / Downriver Office: 734-675-4084

    Be caring. Be friendly. Be authoritative. Tell the person who answers the phone that his sponsoring of a bill requiring closed government is corruption. Tell that person that he or she should not work for someone who wants government corruption. Try to convince that person to get a better job.

    Once several members of his staff quit, John Conyers will no longer be as much of a threat.

    Work to make sure John Conyers is never re-elected to anything.

    The U.S. government is VERY corrupt. Join with me in stopping the corruption.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ZorinLynx (31751)

      Note that they are not going to care unless you are in his district.

      Of course if you DO happen to live in his district, this means even MORE so that you should call.

    • by FiloEleven (602040) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:58AM (#26856521)

      Mod parent up. A relevant quote from DownsizeDC:

      I hear it all the time: "Sending messages to Congress won't work." My first reaction is, "compared to what?"

      In truth, "public pressure" has a fine track record . . .

              * How did segregation end? It ended because of public pressure.
              * Why did the Soviet Union collapse? In the end, it was because of public pressure.
              * Why did China move toward a free market economy? It was because of public pressure.

      More to the point, Congress has voted the way we wanted 17 times since DownsizeDC.org was founded.

      Sending messages online is good. Mail is better. Phone calls are best because they are timely and, if there are enough people calling, they can swamp the system, making it seem to those in the office that EVERYONE is against whatever measure they're calling in to rant about.

      Participation is necessary for representation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:55AM (#26855747)

    Okay, what went wrong? What happened? Has our government always been like this? Is there a single politician who won't be bought? How can we fix all this (not with these two parties, that's for sure). The Republicans have been bought by the religious and oil, and the Democrats have been bought by the copyright zealots and god-knows-who-else.

    We need elections based on instant run-off or something so that third parties actually have a chance. I can't take this anymore. There needs to be some sort of fundamental change.

    It seems like everything is ruined forever.

    • by djseomun (1119637) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:37AM (#26855993) Homepage Journal

      Is there a single politician who won't be bought?

      Yes. Ron Paul.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:47AM (#26856053) Homepage

      Is there a single politician who won't be bought?

      Yes, they do exist in the US. I'm talking about folks like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul: They very definitely stand for something, and don't compromise their principles. They're usually dismissed and ridiculed by "news" organizations.

      For instance, no one would have asked Hillary Clinton during a debate if she'd seen a UFO. There's no good way to answer a question like that: if you say "no" all sorts of political hacks will try to prove that you did, and if you say "yes" you're treated like some sort of nut.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:55AM (#26855751) Homepage Journal

    this is what happens when you let go of rules and regulations. the groups who want to prosper at the expense of everyone else goes berserk, and even tries to rob you of what you pay for.

    balance is the key. government has to be a regulatory tool, a heavy handed hammer of ALL people against groups who seek privilege. that includes groups that seek to exploit free market principles by yelping and wanking 'deregulation' in order to propagate scams like wall street did in this hedge fund fraud.

    before any holistic economists try to yelp the same criminal 'regulation is bad' line that alan greenspan et all yelped in the last 20 years, i want to warn them ; before you have any chance of doing that, you will have to explain me why we shouldnt let go of judiciary, police, and criminal law, if we were to let go of regulations in business.

    because, they are in the same status - both are regulatory, order providing arrangements of rules and laws to ensure that noone pulls any shit on anyone else.

  • by PrvtBurrito (557287) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:02AM (#26855787)
    I am a federally funded researcher who administrates a program that publishes quite a bit. First off, I am a supporter of open access publishing. Here is our challenge with the current policy, and why it has been very difficult to adopt.

    Open access journals cost between $1-3k per publication (see PLOS or BMC). These journals automatically submit papers to the public repository. This is a direct cost that comes out of my grants that may not have been originally budgeted. Now, closed access journals are generally free or close to free to publish. The new policy requires submission of closed access papers, by the authors, to the central repository (if federally funded). Obviously, this violates the agreement the author had with the publisher, so the author, on their own, must negotiate a legal mechanism to do this. Some publishers charge to do this, maybe more than $1k. Every submitted paper gets an ID that must be submitted with a progress report. When we publish 5-10 papers per progress report, this is frankly a lot of work and sometimes, we fund papers partially that are published by other groups. So it is up to me to encourage these groups to figure this out, so I can include them in my reports. More work, and it adds another level of complexity to collaboration.

    So far, this has been an administrative headache, it is expensive and considering most major university libraries already have licenses to the closed data, it seems, to me, unnecessarily complicated. I wish they had required the publishers to do this (each publisher would have to work with one source) instead of the researcher, because we have to work with a number of publishers and that takes time in an already very, very competitive field.

    There are some really great aspects of open access publishing and the power of the resulting knowledgebase of manuscripts is going to be really exciting, however, $10-20k/year for page charges is only going to result in less science, IMO.
    • by claus.wilke (51904) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:21AM (#26855913)

      I totally agree. The current policy is broken. It looks good on paper, but creates major headaches for the researchers.

      In my view, the NIH is taking the easy way out. Instead of negotiating with journals directly, NIH just puts the burden on the researchers to figure out, for every publication separately, what is the correct way to handle it.

      To get a sense of the hoops you have to jump through to do it properly,
      read e.g. this blog post by a person whose job it is to take care of pubmed central submissions. [tdl.org]

      In practice, a highly productive lab would need an extra administrative person just to deal with these issues. That doesn't seem like a good way to spend research money to me.

    • So what you are really saying is that yes, you get paid enough to do the work but have no money to air the results in any meaningful way. So what we really need is a Research Data Office consisting of some number of research collectors. The collectors would basically be liased to the various institutions engaged in federal funding research and it would be their job to capture all of the particulars of all the experiments, load the steps and results into a federal database, which would then be available for

      • I'm not sure I agree that we can't 'air results in any meaningful way.' However, I do think that public data repositories are something that should be explored, and are, btw, by most funding agencies. That is a bit of a different issue.
    • by raaum (152451) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:03AM (#26856165) Homepage

      You wrote that "most major university libraries already have licenses to the closed data", when you SHOULD have written "most major WEALTHY university libraries already have licenses to the closed data."

      Even before the current economic problems, many public universities have been cutting journal subscriptions wholesale, and the trend is only increasing. I work at one of the campuses of the City University of New York and our journal subscriptions are abysmal. If you publish regularly in any of the more expensive commercial journals (outside of the very tip-top 5 or so in your field), I can guarantee you that your work is not being read as much as it perhaps should be at my institution.

      Of course, the administrative and budgetary problems you describe with the current open access model are very real - I certainly don't have the budget to publish exclusively in these journals. Nonetheless, the ever-increasing costs of the commercial system are leading to some serious problems and contributing to a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots of the academic science world.

      If there were only one or two commercial journals that I would like to access that my library does not subscribe to, I would be willing to bite the bullet and buy personal subscriptions, but I cannot afford to buy personal subscriptions to a dozen or more commercial journals.

      While "$10-20k/year for page charges" may only "result in less science," it doesn't matter how much science you do if no one reads it... Instead of paying these charges out of our direct grant funds, our institutions need to make institution-wide deals with open access publishers out of our grant overhead (re-routing, for example, the money that they are currently spending on overpriced commercial journal subscriptions).

  • What a dipshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:07AM (#26855817)

    Really - I mean *really* - you want to take research we fund explicitly for public enrichment, and deny public access to the results of that research on the basis of copyright interpretation?

    There is no justification for slowing down the progress of science for the benefit of *publishers*.

    Rep. Conyers, you truly are a dipshit of the highest caliber.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vmcto (833771)
      Why does this suprise anyone. Congress has been preventing it's own taxpayer research from being made public for almost 30 years! If not for wikileaks and renegade congressional staffers these 6,780 reports [wikileaks.org] would never see the light of day.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's start to put some teeth behind "government of the people, by the people."

    We do have that pesky 2nd Amendment to help us remind them.

  • by transporter_ii (986545) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:23AM (#26855919) Homepage

    I was doing some research for a project on OSHA. As I understand it, works produced by the federal government cannot be copyrighted:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_of_the_United_States_Government [wikipedia.org]

    However, on the OSHA web site, not a word is said as to the copyright status that I can find. So is it public domain or not?

    I guess, in relation to TFA, copyright doesn't matter anyway, they just won't make it available to the public either way.

    Transporter_ii

  • by CupBeEmpty (720791) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:40AM (#26856013) Homepage

    ...in peer reviewed journals. That is unless someone pays a fat subscription fee on my behalf.

    • That's your fault.

      Instead, release your work (if you're willing) under an open license that does not allow for commercial exploitation, like a CC with non-commercial. When it shows up on the exorbitant charge-sites, sue their asses. And make sure to hit them with the clauses in copyright that allow for up to 35K per infringing copy.

  • by minkie (814488) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:51AM (#26856087)

    Slowly, the scientific world is starting to realize that they are no longer beholden to the publishing companies to distribute the results of their research.

    A few days ago, at his first press conference, Barak Obama called on Sam Stein of the Huffington Post to ask a question. For those that don't understand the significance of this event, The Huffington post is a web-only newspaper. No paper.

    Some day, the journal publishers will wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that the one essential step in the publishing process that they control, the hugely expensive printing presses, is no longer essential. Most of the value the journals add in the editorial arena (reviewing and editing) is done by the peers of the people who are submitting the articles. That same level of editorial review can just as easily happen on a web site, at far less cost. We're moving in that direction slowly, and if bills like this become law, that will just accelerate the pressure to move there.

  • Suggest adding a "Change!" tag for articles demonstrating that Democrat politicians are no different than Republican politicians.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I blame Bush...Somehow.

  • Although I'd not wish such a horrible thing on people, I've wondered if such a calamity might actually have an upside.....

  • Congress requires all federal agencies to report to the SBA annually all SBIR and STTR awards made in the previous federal fiscal year. The SBA publishes this information in their site called TECH-Net. See for yourself:

    http://web.sba.gov/tech-net/docrootpages/index2.cfm

    You can search for over 85,000 awards there, covering the entire range of SBIR and STTR, from 1983 to 2007. The agencies aren't required to report 2008 awards until next month, but I see from a search just now that DoD has already entere
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:28PM (#26857729) Journal

    The scientific journal publishers (Elsevier/Science Direct etc.) are the worst of the worst of humanity. Scientists across the world work for a pittance (we have the worst salaries, even janitors earn more) researching and trying to contribute something that will benefit the whole humanity. They try to publish their research, but while doing so they accept to
    - give copyrights of their text to the publisher
    - give copyrights to all the pictures in the paper to the publisher
    - PAY for their work to be published

    At the same time
    - other scientists review these papers for free

    And finally
    - the publisher charges EVERYONE (including us, the scientists who wrote the article) to access the material.

    WHAT the FUCK is wrong with the academic world? I mean, I see all my colleagues bend over to take it up the ass from the publishers. Elsevier has basically a licence to print money - you coulnd't find a better business model, since everything is done by others, including review and editing.

    Fuck you Elsevier, IEEE and also Nature (not as scummy, but fuck you, too) etc.

  • by aztektum (170569) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:14PM (#26858063)

    I have read it and not being a lawyer I'm confused. If research is funded by Federal money, how can they smack down it's open access?

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