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July 26, 2011

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You say:

"If you're an author of a paper in STM who wants to publish in a peer-reviewed setting, these are your basic choices:

1. A for-profit publisher
2. A non-for-profit, JSTOR-access publisher
3. An "open access" publisher"

I wonder if you could clarify how an author gets his/her paper published in JSTOR?

i wish Google had a way to exclude journals from their search results. searching for info on arcane computer algorithms can be very frustrating when 99% of all hits are to the free summaries of for-pay journal articles.

Swartz's arrest and charges come from the US Attorney's office, which has decided to throw the book at him.

To be clear, Swartz engaged in unauthorized access to a protected computer system, which is a felony. As a result of his actions, thousands of researchers at MIT were locked out of journal access. Since a lot of those researchers were getting paid with US government grants (NIH/DARPA/whatever), is it really surprising that the government takes this seriously?


If you're an author of a paper in STM who wants to publish in a peer-reviewed setting, these are your basic choices:

You also have another set of options, completely orthogonal to those choices: you can put your article on your website. Or on your institution's website. Or on a preprint server like arvix.org or make sure it finds its way to CiteSeer. Last I heard, ACM was trying to crack down on this by wording their contributor agreements to make it harder and by threatening institutional/university archives, but there's really not a lot they can do.

The point is, no matter where you publish, if you want to, you can probably make your papers available for free on the web if you're willing to make an extra effort. The version you post may differ in subtle ways that no one cares about from the published version, but...no one cares about that.

Mr. Swartz recently completed a 10-month fellowship at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. "Aaron has never done anything in this context for personal gain ...

So, what he learned about ethics suggested to him that he could do anything that he wanted, provided only that he didn't make any money off it? At least in the opinion of the Center's director. Presumably that could be extended to suggest that the terrorist in Norway earlier this week was OK, too, since he didn't make any money off his actions either. Amazing.

If Mr. Swartz was doing this as an act of civil disobedience, fine. Part of civil disobedience is that you accept being arrested and punished as the price for making your point. Perhaps Mr. Swartz understands that, even if Mr. Lessig is clueless.

2. A non-for-profit, JSTOR-access publisher ...

c. won't acquire copyright, so you'll have to deal with course packet requests

This problem seems like one that ought to be solvable through an appropriate copyright license. A license that allows verbatim copying with attribution would allow the journal- or anyone who reads the article and wants to share it- to provide reprints while preserving the original author's rights to continue to develop the work. That people allow problems like this to block progress is a sign that we're not trying hard enough.

This is madness. Universities or affiliations of universities need to create some sort of alternative mechanism which involves basically running it through peer review, followed by slapping it up on a website.

@Anthony Damiani:

I would argue that traditional peer review has probably passed its best-by date. Instead of a small set of anonymous reviewers looking at the paper behind closed doors, the review should be a public process.

I envision something more like a wiki, with a main page for the article that only the original authors could edit, and a comments page that any registered user could add to. Authors would put their manuscript up on the server, and then any registered user of the system would be allowed to comment and critique. The original authors would be allowed to amend and update their paper to respond to the criticism, include recommended new experiments, etc. Interested readers would be able to see the whole history of the paper, including any outstanding criticisms, rather than just the final product.

I like this topic. One of the most annoying day-to-day things about working in a small technical company is the difficulty in accessing journal articles. It usually requires a trip to tap into the local university wireless system. A little place like this certainly can't hold a library, although you'd sure wish they'd at least have some running ACS membership or something.

I've often thought a really useful service would be to run a library subsription: so many article downloads from their big library for a monthly fee, and we have the latest music sites as a business model (and university libraries for a legal one). Is that what JSTOR does? Or does JSTOR only run JSTOR pay-to-publish journals? What on earth would be the incentive to publish there?

Of course the really annoying part about science publication, at least in the physical sciences, is that quite a lot of the research itself done was funded by taxpayers. It's mighty annoying that this investment fails to buy general access to read about the results.

Yes, arXiv (or something with a similar model) seems to be the big 4th alternative here. I know a few fields not covered by arXiv have their own equivalents, but there's still quite a bit not covered, IIRC...

I interviewed for a tech job at PLoS last year (didn't get it). They have a pretty serious software team, and a decent-sized editorial staff who also have to deal with things like converting the various weird files authors give them into stuff everyone can use and marking it up semantically for better searching. They all have to get paid. It''s misleading to say that the technical side should just "be taken care of by the software."

Over here it would be suicidal for anyone to say that they work for Elsevier within hearing range of any academic ;-). Their fees have become so high that the universities of Berlin pooled, so that there would be only one subscription for any important journal in town. Even then several journals had to be unsubscribed and academics get at articles/papers through colleagues at other institutions. Elsevier and accomplices are also very avid to make copying services like subito illegal that charge a fee per page for their services. Now it is even difficult for scientists to use their own work without violating the copyright they had to hand over in order to get published. Traditionally there were a limited number of free reprints but those have been reduced over time to zero. My professor at the university had made a certain graphical representation of a physicochemical system that became a true hit (including being turned into a book cover for a standard textbook). There were several slightly different versions of that and we had to take great care when to use which one because otherwise it could have been a copyright violation. I am still not sure that the t-shirts were fully legal ;-)

...To be clear, Swartz engaged in unauthorized access to a protected computer system, which is a felony.

Really? Well, when spammers connect to my server's SMTP port, they get:

220 deleted.example.com: access for unsolicited email is UNAUTHORIZED; disconnect NOW or you are committing a FELONY.

HELO spamhaus.moron.com: got some SPAM for you!

...
When do the prosecutions start?

When do the prosecutions start?

Spam prosecutions have been ongoing for many years now.

Beyond that, I don't really understand your point. Are you complaining that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 is not really federal law? Or that the fact that the feds don't prosecute every single violation means that they must never prosecute any violation? Or what?

i wish Google had a way to exclude journals from their search results. searching for info on arcane computer algorithms can be very frustrating when 99% of all hits are to the free summaries of for-pay journal articles.

Google needs to provide a cookie/account-based method for blacklisting at the very least by domain, period. The amount of useless noise created by auto-generated web pages and free previews is just staggering. And telling people to append a per-site exclusion parameter to every single search they perform is not a solution.

If Google provided a proper per-user blacklist feature, the amount of traffic to worthless sites like Experts-Exchange would drop to almost nothing within a year.

An odd choice of name, is expertsexchange.

I followed the discussion at CT (was it really only a week ago?) with interest and someone noted over there that there were some alternate interpretations of what Swartz was going to do. Apparently, previous research he did was to use large journal databases to attempt to track links between researchers who were being paid for their research. Others note that it is unlikely that Swartz was going to put up the whole archive.

You mention of the a relation between the government effort and the RIAA but a CT commenter dismisses that, saying that it is a district court matter and I'm wondering if anyone (as we have some legal types here) has more insight into that. Is the mechanism of a lower level lawyer wanting to get into the good graces of the Solicitor General likely?

Also, to pull one thing out of the NYTimes article, Swartz faces 35 years in prison if he is convicted.

"I envision something more like a wiki, with a main page for the article that only the original authors could edit, and a comments page that any registered user could add to. Authors would put their manuscript up on the server, and then any registered user of the system would be allowed to comment and critique. The original authors would be allowed to amend and update their paper to respond to the criticism, include recommended new experiments, etc. Interested readers would be able to see the whole history of the paper, including any outstanding criticisms, rather than just the final product."

And when this system is spammed with thousands of creationist anti-evolution articles?

Stealing proprietary information is a bad thing.

In the case of databases of author works, there are people who create the database, acquire appropriate data (determining whether it is appropriate by identifying it; asking permission), do work determining collateral copyright issues, edit and format data, and a lot of other stuff in order to publish it. Publishers are liable if the work infringes copyright, and sometimes if it's otherwise not what it purports to be. The mechanics of publishing is very labor-intensive, which is why most commercial publishers outsource a lot of it to India.

My own opinion is that copyright law needs to be reformed, and that information (both copyrighted and governmental) should be more accessible. But there are real issues in compensating authors, protecting privacy, protecting intellectual property, protecting the process of editing and creating collections, and protecting the work that publishers have traditionally done.

Elsevier charges too much. It used to have almost monopoly status in many countries for a long time. Likewise Lexis-Nexis and other information publishing databases. But they have a lot of employees (whether here or abroad) that do a lot of work with the data. Stealing it is a problem, and since there are laws against it, those laws should be faithfully executed until the problems are figured out and the laws are amended. (I have very passing acquaintance with JSTOR so can't really speak to that.)

As to volunteerism in academic publishing, there is a huge problem with student "slave" (volunteer?) labor. Obviously there may be a payoff later, etc., but value isn't always compensated fairly in academic "not for profit" publishing anymore than it is in commercial publishing.

The whole 'the solicitor general is an RIAA flack' and (even worse) 'the local US attorney is desperate to get her approval' strikes me as ignorant conspiracy theory talk. Last time I checked, we didn't generally accept that a lawyer completely agrees with all their clients. I don't believe that attorneys who represent Gitmo prisoners are supporters of all Gitmo prisoners or of accused terrorists in general.

Look, Scwarz did something stupid that deprived MIT of a valuable tool for many hours. There's no need to speculate about why the government would prosecute him. If he broke into MIT's on-campus power plant, screwed around, and in the process deprived half of campus of electricity for a day, you damn well better believe that the government would prosecute him. This isn't much different.

Google needs to provide a cookie/account-based method for blacklisting at the very least by domain, period.

Catsy, you might want to look at this extension for Chrome; you can probably find equivalent ones for Firefox. A few months ago, before they rolled out the Farmer update that basically killed ExpertsExchange and friends for me, they were offering their own Chrome extension that did the same thing but after Farmer, they stopped doing so. I think.

Richard Poynder:

Answering your question got so complicated I updated the post. Thanks for the push!

Turb:

Scwarz did something stupid that deprived MIT of a valuable tool for many hours.

-- and he's look at *35 years* and a *million dollar fine*. As many people have said, that is ludicrously disproportionate. I'm not positing a conspiracy in the Justice Department, I'm saying that there's a culture. Obama appointed 5 former RIAA lawyers to Justice, and one is now Solicitor General -- I think any sensible underling would calculate that aggressively protecting corporate IP is likely to be a good career move.

Hartmut:

I'm pretty sure academics the world over curse when Lord Voldemort Elsevier's name is mentioned. We were doing it in 1980, when I was in grad school, and their market share has actually gotten larger and more vampiric since then.

@Scott de B.: And when this system is spammed with thousands of creationist anti-evolution articles?

I'm already limiting reviews to registered users; I think you'd have to limit authorship similarly. This obviously leaves open the question of how somebody qualifies to be on the system. I think there's ultimately going to have to be some kind of vetting system and moderation, even if that makes nuts and conspiracy theorists complain about being shut out by The Man.

When I describe my system as being wiki-like, that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be quite as open to any loonie as Wikipedia is. I meant more about the structure of allowing but rigorously tracking edits. That way there would be an up-to-date version for people who just want to see the methods or results but still all the talk and changes for anyone who wants to dig in and see what's been happening. I think that kind of two-track approach is a fantastic way of providing both simplicity and openness.

-- and he's look at *35 years* and a *million dollar fine*. As many people have said, that is ludicrously disproportionate.

Wait a minute...are you saying that we have laws in the US that empower the government to give people absurdly disproportionate sentences? I had no idea. I mean, except for that whole powder/crack cocaine mandatory minimum sentencing discrepancy. Oh! Is the issue here that a privileged white guy is suffering from wildly disproportionate statutory punishments as opposed to the usual suspects?

More seriously, I don't know that this is disproportionate. I know that prosecutors often charge everything they think might stick on the theory that doing so intimidates the accused and helps push them into accepting a plea bargain which saves the prosecutor a ton of time and effort. And I know that people with money and powerful friends don't always get the max sentence in court. And I know that when you automate crime, you make it easy to rack up large sentences. That's a special risk that people who write software have to deal with: software enables you to make all sorts of mistakes much faster than you could otherwise; it magnifies the consequences of screwing up. But every single person who writes software learns that lesson from, oh, day one, so I expect that Swarz should have internalized it by now.

Look, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 is almost three decades old. Its existence, along with the penalties it prescribes, are not some policy purchased by the RIAA. In 1986, the RIAA was really really not thinking about unauthorized access to protected computer systems.

I'm not positing a conspiracy in the Justice Department, I'm saying that there's a culture. Obama appointed 5 former RIAA lawyers to Justice, and one is now Solicitor General -- I think any sensible underling would calculate that aggressively protecting corporate IP is likely to be a good career move.

Is this claim at all falsifiable? Is there any way the DOJ could prove that their culture has not been completely captured by RIAA copyright-maximalists? Or is this sort of charge the kind that no one can ever disprove so that no one can ever defend against?

The DOJ employs thousands of attorneys. The RIAA employs many attorneys as well. Is your claim really that any organization which has employed more than 5 DOJ staff attorneys in the past has completely captured the DOJ by using...culture? And that ignores the fact that the RIAA is a very different beast from JSTOR and academic publishers in general. JSTOR seemed to want this whole thing to go away...if the copyright absolutists are calling the shots, why isn't the government listening to JSTOR?

Roger Moore:

I think your system would be a really bad idea, because it discards the most crucial element of the current peer-review system: it is *blind*. To get anonymous peer-review requires editors wrangling cats in a quiet and dignified manner behind the scenes, so that authors can *change their minds* before their paper hits print.

@wj:
Presumably that could be extended to suggest that the terrorist in Norway earlier this week was OK, too, since he didn't make any money off his actions either. Amazing.

Not amazing. Profit vs. not-for-profit is pertinent in discussions of intellectual property ethics by simple virtue of how much intellectual property laws concern themselves with for-profit use, compensation issues, etc. Homicide laws... not so much.

An odd choice of name, is expertsexchange.

Skilled surgeons are standing by!

Turb- as an MIT graduate from the distant past, breaking into a closet and hacking the contents in an easily repairable manner would not be regarded as a great crime. For a student, it probably would not merit a suspension (unless connected with some other nefarious purpose, such as radical politics).
A friend of mine was doing the breaking and entering wiring cabinets as part of his job, since that was the best way to get his computers functioning.

peggy, as an MIT graduate from the recent past, I think you're wrong. Causing MIT to lose access to JSTOR seems like a suspension/expulsion offense; it is definitely something that would merit a visit with the Committee on Discipline.

Finally, there are all sorts of infractions that are treated more leniently when committed by people who are 'in the family' so to speak. Scwarz is not an MIT student. He is not part of the MIT community. He broke into an MIT facility, damaged a network, created a massive service outage, and wasted many hours of staff time. From MIT's perspective, he's a vandal.

Also, I should point out that MIT has changed over the decades. Back in the 60s and 70s, the Institute tolerated a level of drug abuse (and supposedly large scale drug manufacturing) that is frankly inconceivable now. Times change. Mores change.

A question that occurs to me is- to what degree is the MIT administration pushing this prosecution? The facts- about the cabinet and service denial have been put on record, but were they eagerly offered or extorted by the prosecutors? Will witnesses be prodded, provided, or subpoenaed?
JSTOR has bowed out of the case, will MIT continue or not?

The Solicitor General's office is pretty specialized & would likely have no impact at all on the career of a U.S. Attorney. But this decision is still nuts, and the prosecutorial of the Department of Justice are scandalous.

As someone who is an Associate Editor of a (society-based) journal in the physical sciences, let me agree with Hob, above. I see almost no papers that are fit to publish as is; almost always the reviewers have things to say that add value, and very often that the authors are glad to hear. They are less glad, of course, in the not infrequent case that the paper has minor or major problems to be addressed; and still less in the (relatively rare) cases in which the paper is trivial, completely inept, or otherwise hopeless. And there is the *very* frequent problem that, even if the contents are OK, the production is sloppy and/or the English is clearly nonstandard.

The reviewers work for nothing; I work for next to that; but there is an office and production staff that needs to be paid. ArXiV works with a relatively capable set of authors (those who can use LaTeX at least), but even so publishes a fair amount of marginal material; I think that the idea of automatic formatting is, for submissions from most authors, a fantasy that the readers of the product would not thank you for.

That said, there is clearly a lot of rent being extracted by the owners of journals that academics regard as "leaders" and hence important to publish in. This is something we in academia do to ourselves, but there is a collective action problem in getting out of it.

JSTOR is (relative to most of the rest of this) a brighter side: they make a lot of material available to smaller institutions that would otherwise not have it in their libraries (and they save all libraries the costs of storing large volumes of stuff). I believe that they had a lot of problems getting many journals to make their backfiles available. I would agree that they could to better with individuals.

The humanities have their own problems: journal articles often count much less than books, and books in the narrower fields have so little market (libraries having spent all their money on journals) that even the university presses are abandoning them.

It is a craxy system, but how to change it while still keeping some level of quality is a puzzle. We are now at least 10 years from the predicted collapse of the academic journal system, and it hasn't happened yet.

JSTOR does not own journals. It selects journals that it thinks are significant and acquires from the societies/companies that run them the right to hold back files (although in some cases another set of back files is held by a society on its own website). In many cases JSTOR archives do not include the most current issues (depending on the individual contract, most recent JSTOR archive may be 5 years old). So you can't 'publish in a JSTOR-owned journal' (or whatever misconception was suggested above). Being archived on JSTOR might be a guide for newbies on what journals are considered to be of special significance and impact. Also -- publishing on your own website, etc. 'doesn't count' in academia because it isn't peer-reviewed. In fact, some journals won't accept submissions if paper has been on a website. And copyright waiver may require you to take paper off your own website. Retired, thank God, and well out of this mess.

The academic publication mess is part of a larger dysfunction in the way that research is funded, and in the incentives that motivate academics. There are WAY TOO MANY published articles. The LPU (Least Publishable Unit) is rampant. In some fields there is pressure to publish more than ten articles a year.... Some academics use reviewers to edit their papers. Impact factors and citation numbers are being gamed. I receive articles to review that are boring and inconsequential, and arguably a rehash of old material with a slight modification. The editor should have returned these. Prestigious journals such as Science Nature and PNAS require such a rapid turn-around of peer review (1-2 weeks) that it is impossible to give more than a passing opinion of a paper rather than a thorough review. And so on....

What Joe said. And I was to a degree an accomplice in the publication inflation game during my PhD time.
On the other hand my professor delegated a number of reviewing jobs to me. I often found that there was interesting stuff somewhere in those papers but it was difficult to get at it because it was hidden behind mountains of bad prose, faulty grammar and misspellings. I got the impression that during the last (half)century the 'literary' quality of papers (at least in chemistry) went steeply downhill. It was also interesting to find that there was a good chance to deduct the national origin of a paper based simply on the errors in grammar. Indians, Indonesians, Arabs each had their particular ways to violate English (of these I got most material due to connections of my prof to these countries). One thing seemed to be universal, the belief that using the indefinite article 'a' was a felony and that too many 'the' also would mean trouble.

@doctor science - I think your system would be a really bad idea, because it discards the most crucial element of the current peer-review system: it is *blind*. To get anonymous peer-review requires editors wrangling cats in a quiet and dignified manner behind the scenes, so that authors can *change their minds* before their paper hits print.

My PI always seems to have a pretty good idea of whom our reviewers are. Whether this is by intuition or by breaking the system, I couldn't tell you. But I don't see why some kind of editorial gatekeeping could not be done in such a hypothetical system so that reviewers could be registered with the site according to their credentials, and yet kept anonymous in the "talk" (a la Wikipedia) page through appropriate coding.

Some links that may be of interest

The indictment is here

The NewYorker blog has a few more details

As does the guardian

Applies to Legal as well !!

Briefs and Opinions of courts are NOT copy-write and ARE in the public record but to access them you have to have expensive subscriptions from Westlaw or Lexus.

Subscribtion to the online service, for just one month, for just the cases from just one state (not the federal), costs about $250 a month, for a personal subscription. For all states and all Federal districts it costs several thousand a month.

This is CASE LAW, the law you must live by and live up to, yet you can't read it without paying through the nose.

If people are to obey the law, as interpreted by the courts, then the goverment MUST make legal opinions by the courts open access for free.

While ignorance is considered no defense, keeping the case law secret seems like entrapment. It does not seem to be the way a free and open democracy should operate.

In my experience the 'blind' review system does not work when applied to narrow fields of research*. Often there are just a few potential reviewers and they know each other well. This has a subtle influence on the way papers are written. Potential reviewers are cited positively, criticism of their pet theories is avoided etc.

*How many experts are there e.g. on biocatalysis in w/o microemulsions, esp. if it is not about lipase?

James M. "Briefs and Opinions of courts are NOT copy-write and ARE in the public record but to access them you have to have expensive subscriptions from Westlaw or Lexus."

James M, although it is true that briefs and opinions of courts are not protected by copyright, it is not true that "you have to have expensive subscriptions" to gain access to them. You can easily read cases on court servers for free. You can read Supreme Court cases for free. What Lexis-Nexis does is to assemble all the cases, format them in a uniform manner, place them in a database making it easier to search them, so that lawyers can feel confident that they've done the thorough research work that courts require. The publishers provide access to that service for a fee. Other companies provide similar services for less money (although their case collections aren't as comprehensive and the accuracy of their data is sometimes questionable).

It takes effort (which requires employees - many of them) to do the work that Lexis-Nexis does which results in a comprehensive (and, most importantly up-to-date) collection of case law, statutes, regulations (as well as treatises, etc., leaving out mention of the "Nexis" news and information portion.) People who do the work get paid for it, and the corporation makes a profit.

The service could be provided more cheaply by a not-for-profit corporation, or by the government, but it would still cost money to pay the significant number of people who do the work of editing the material (by formatting it for the search engine and perhaps adding key numbers, annotations, etc.), and presenting it accurately and quickly.

Everyone wants free stuff. But people who do the significant work of providing material (even data that's in the public domain) should get paid for their effort if they add value, which the publishers do.

People who do the work get paid for it, and the corporation makes a profit.

And then Lexis lays them off and gives their jobs to some people in Chennai.

/still_a_little_bitter_@_lexis

cleek: "And then Lexis lays them off and gives their jobs to some people in Chennai."

True enough. But the fact is, publishing doesn't happen by magic. If you want to get stuff for free, some stuff is free on the Internet. Stuff is at various libraries. But if you want to have a searchable database with a large collection of material that's kept accurate and up-to-date and at your fingertips, a lot of people have worked very hard to make that available: whether it be U.S. workers, offshore workers, or slaves.

I'm not defending the profits, the prices, the near monopolies, the fact that U.S. law is published by foreign corporations, or anything else about the corporations that publish information. All I'm saying is that there are services done that are worth paying for, and if someone wants to do all of that work as a not-for-profit, so that it can be made available for less money, go for it!

But if you want to have a searchable database with a large collection of material that's kept accurate and up-to-date and at your fingertips, a lot of people have worked very hard to make that available: whether it be U.S. workers, offshore workers, or slaves.

And that's why Wikipedia is so expensive!

Also, that's why Citeseer charges so much; I hear they're up to $0 now.

Turbulence, again, as I said, "All I'm saying is that there are services done that are worth paying for, and if someone wants to do all of that work as a not-for-profit, so that it can be made available for less money, go for it!"

And when someone puts it together, I'll be the first to use it. I don't notice that anyone has done it for legal information. Maybe it can be done. It hasn't been done.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: some states have longstanding contracts with legal publishers who have an exclusive right to publish statutory material as the "official state code" (although anyone can publish the statutes unofficially). In many cases, the state revisor works directly with the publisher's editorial staff to reconcile inconsistent legislation, correct errors, etc., to come up with a version of a state code that the legislature then adopts as "the law." It's a painstaking and quite complicated (in some cases) process to codify statutes. Some publishers have traditionally enhanced the statutory publication with case law annotations, making it easier for lawyers to survey case law interpreting various statutory provisions. (This exercise isn't as useful as it was in the past since search engines can easily accumulate relevant cases, although the material isn't digested and summarized.)

The reason I mention this because I wonder: why should anyone get paid for anything? Everyone here who's not independently wealthy is probably happy to have some talent or skill that they can make a living working with. Why do people think that the publishing industry should be staffed by volunteers?

The reason I mention this because I wonder: why should anyone get paid for anything? Everyone here who's not independently wealthy is probably happy to have some talent or skill that they can make a living working with. Why do people think that the publishing industry should be staffed by volunteers?

No one has claimed to believe that.

I personally wonder why various publishing industry costs don't reflect advances in information technology. Citeseer can run for basically nothing because of those advances. If buggywhip manufacturing was a billion dollar business, I'd wonder how they were hanging on too.

Dr Science raised the question about why academic publishing has to be so expensive given that almost all the expertise *is already* volunteered for free.

And that's why Wikipedia is so expensive!

Well, there is that "accurate and up-to-date" part....

The National Institutes of Health are attempting to address this problem through their "public access policy", which you can google about, but which basically requires that any peer-reviewed manuscript written as a result of NIH-funded activity be available for the public to read free. If the National Science foundation were to follow suite then many of the academic problems listed above would be mitigated.

:/ Surprised a direct link to the JSTOR torrent hasn't been posted yet. http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/6554331/Papers_from_Philosophical_Transactions_of_the_Royal_Society__fro
Can't stop the signal.

What a please to be quoted.

I'm not sure that I agree that the "blind" part of peer-review is very useful. There are journals now that use non-blind peer review, and others using open (publically accessible) review.

The idea that authors need to update their paper before publication is a hangover from the tree-based system we used to have, I think. Why not publish (make available), then get reviews, then update, and then mark the paper as finished.

There are a lot of experiments out there (including http://knowledgeblog.org which is my own). Ultimately, I do not know which will succeed, but I do think we need something faster, easier and cheaper for the authors. Scientific publishing has hardly been affected by the web and that is a shame.

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