Saturday, April 14, 2012

Welcome News

Behind the curve as usual, but the Guardian last week brought news that the Welcome Trust (in US terms think Howard Hughes, or the Gates Foundation, or insert the local megabucks private foundation for medical research here) was tired of subsidizing Elsevier and Nature

Sir Mark Walport, the director of Wellcome Trust, said that his organisation is in the final stages of launching a high calibre scientific journal called eLife that would compete directly with top-tier publications such as Nature and Science, seen by scientists as the premier locations for publishing. Unlike traditional journals, however, which cost British universities hundreds of millions of pounds a year to access, articles in eLife will be free to view on the web as soon as they are published.

He also said that the Wellcome Trust, which spends more than £600m on scientific research a year, would soon adopt a more robust approach with the scientists it funds, to ensure that results are freely available to the public within six months of first publication.
Much premature celebration in the comments.

A VERY long time ago a very old professor of Eli's told him that after the war (WWII you whippersnappers) when the US was setting up science funding on a much larger  scale, there was a discussion of how to fund scientific publishing.  The commercial publishers objected to direct funding of learned societies, so the page charge mechanism was set up.  There is no reason for it to continue, nor is there reason for funding agencies not to insist on open publication.  Harold Varmus was right and increasingly this is a policy that more funding agencies are adopting.

Eli will simply append the new policy from the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.  Perhaps this will bring James back to Britain??
Issue date:  29 September 2011
Category:  Briefing 

EPSRC has introduced a new policy on access to research outputs. The policy has been mandated by the EPSRC Council and recognises the need for increased availability and accessibility of publicly-funded research findings, as demonstrated by the recently announced Working Group established by Science Minister David Willetts.

Open access to research publications is now policy in an increasing number of major funding agencies such as the other UK Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust, the US National Science Foundation and National Institutes for Health.

EPSRC’s policy, which is in line with RCUK’s position, covers access to any form of scholarly work arising from EPSRC funding and accepted for publication in an academic journal.

The policy requires that all published EPSRC-funded research articles submitted for publication from 1 September 2011 must be made available on an Open Access basis.

Importantly, the policy leaves researchers free to publish in the journal most suited to the subject of their research. It is expected that publications will be made Open Access through one of two main routes:

Gold Open Access (pay-to-publish) – peer-reviewed papers published in fully Open Access journals which do not charge subscription fees, or in ‘hybrid’ subscription journals which enable free access to ‘pre-paid’ articles. Subject to certain criteria the publishing fees may be met from direct or indirect costs on EPSRC Research Grants.

Green Open Access – research is published in traditional subscription journals and authors self-archive their papers (as accepted for publication) in a digital online repository.

Publications will preferably be openly accessible from the date of publication. However, the current prevalence of embargo periods means this may not be a realistic option in some areas of engineering and physical sciences research. EPSRC therefore encourages authors to publish within the shortest embargo period attainable commensurate with ensuring their work achieves maximum impact.


Hank Roberts said...

Speaking of research, an investment opportunity (hat tip to contrarybrin)

Hank Roberts said...

and, gack, another similar one:
Microryza (reviewed at ubergizmo)

Jim Bouldin said...

From the Guardian piece:

"Publishers of the academic journals, which can cost universities up to €20,000 (£16,500) a year each to access, argue the price is necessary to sustain a high-quality peer review process."

HA HA HA HA, that's the best one I've heard since April 1. Peer review is UNCOMPENSATED for, i.e. it is free work provided by researchers, from which the publishers benefit directly. Furthermore, there are still typically page charges levied at many journals, in addition to the large journal subscription costs levied on all institutional subscribers.

Who in the world do these people think they're fooling?

John Mashey said...

But as Andrew Gelman noted Wiley Wegman chutzpah update: Now you too can buy a selection of garbled Wikipedia articles, for a mere $1400-$2800 per year!

And then, when they are found to be plagiarized, they just quietly redo the articles.

toto said...

Wake me up when someone with the big bucks decides to launch a third generalist journal on an open-access basis.

This eLife thing is not a competitor to Nature or Science - but ironically enough, it would definitely be a competitor to open-access PLoS biology!

Peer review is UNCOMPENSATED for, i.e. it is free work provided by researchers

Yeah, but the editing isn't. And I don't mean the design and printing stuff, I mean the actual process of choosing adequate reviewers, contacting them, cajoling them to accept, finding others if they don't, then entering the never-ending cycle of nagging reviewers every month about actually returning their reviews, preferably within this century.

And that's before you start doing any actual editing, i.e. finding out how to turn the semi-coherent ramblings that usually constitute both the paper and the reviews into something that won't send readers into spontaneous catatonia.

Editors get a rough deal. Journals that can pay professional editors really add value. Which isn't to mean that their prices aren't extortionate, of course.

Jim Bouldin said...

toto I don't know what you're experience is, but I have a hard time imagining that sending out some scripted email messages to potential or actual reviewers even remotely approaches the time required to carefully review and comment on a paper, especially when you consider the amount of time and energy expended to get the necessary expertise to be able to do so.

And I'm not sure why you think eLife can't compete with Nature or Science. Generalist journals with a print edition have real issues in terms of accessibility and organization, tending more and more to shunt important information into supplements that are not available in the print edition and which completely disrupt the flow of the paper.

John said...

The American Physical Society found that their publishing costs didn't change very much when they "went electronic." They do less printing on dead trees (paper), but the cost of preparing the articles stayed nearly the same.

There is a very important price difference between the journals published by the learned societies (e.g., Physical Review) and the truly extortionate journals published by for-profit publishers.

barry said...

O/T (sorry)

PEER have released some new material on the Charles Monnett case, notably, the transcript for last October's interview with Monnett's co-author on the Polar Bear monograph, Jeffrey Gleason.

"The seemingly interminable probe also leaves Interior scientists fearful about career risks they face in overseeing Arctic research contracts, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)."