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Education United States

Government Makes NIH Research Open Access 162

TaeKwonDood writes "Let's give some credit to the government when they do something right; in this case freeing $29 billion of taxpayer money in NIH research to actual taxpayers. Within one year after peer review, NIH-funded research has to be made freely available on PubMed. A Democratic Congress passed it and a Republican president signed it. This is a tremendous asset to researchers who don't want to have to duplicate research or pay fees for every journal out there. Those media companies getting rich selling journals, like the ACS, don't like it, but everyone else will."
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Government Makes NIH Research Open Access

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  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @11:10PM (#21826966) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, now if we can just fix the NIH funding problem. We've gone years now completely ignoring biomedical research in this country. Back in 1998, scientists seeking funding had a 21% chance of getting funded on their first try and because of funding shortfalls among other reasons that chance fell to 8% in 2006.

    Young scientists are absolutely struggling to launch their careers while senior scientists are worried about losing their funding and all of us are spending more time trying to look for money and apply for grants than we are spending time actually doing the science. All of this talk about open sourcing the science is great, but unless there is funding to actually do the science, it will all be for naught. The really scary thing is that I don't see any real fix in the near future. There has been so much damage done to the federal budget over the last six years or so that even if we started to fix the NIH budget tomorrow, it will likely take 5-10 years to rectify some of the problems and with the spending going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, the sub-prime problem, potential economic recession and more leaves very little room to move.

    • To spare some the RTFA, In the USA, NIH = National Institutes of Health
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by rhyder128k ( 1051042 )
        Thanks for that (serious). I had presumed that they were the Knights That Say NIH (not so serious).
        • by BeerCat ( 685972 )
          Hah! I used to dream of "Knights that say NIH".
          When I were a lad, NIH was Not Invented Here.
    • Except that a few years ago, the government doubled funding for the NIH and the number of published articles did not correlate. The grant funding rate that you quote is from the period of rapid budget INCREASES.

      Forgive me for being very skeptical of your claims that we need to throw even MORE money at the NIH, since y'all were just as productive when we spent half as much money on you.

      I'm not pulling this all out of my ass, either. See here. [the-scientist.com]
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except that a few years ago, the government doubled funding for the NIH and the number of published articles did not correlate. The grant funding rate that you quote is from the period of rapid budget INCREASES.

        Forgive me for being very skeptical of your claims that we need to throw even MORE money at the NIH, since y'all were just as productive when we spent half as much money on you.


        Quantity != Quality
        • If you followed the link that I provided, they address that argument.

          In any event the quality of the research has certainly not doubled (whatever that means) - it was already very, very good.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by claus.wilke ( 51904 )
        Did you read all the comments to the article you cite? The issue is certainly more complicated than you make it sound.

        From my perspective, one conclusion is clear: If the current funding situation continues for much longer, either article quantity or article quality or both will significantly decline as researchers spend more and more of their time writing grant proposals instead of articles.
        • The issue is more complicated than I make it sound, but I was trying to balance what the original poster claimed. It may be frustrating spending a lot of time writing grant proposals, but blaming it on government spending is pretty unproductive.

          Remember, the funding doubled during the period where grants became harder to get. There is no reason to expect doubling the funding again will change that situation. If the problem is that projects are getting more expensive, then they are clearly getting more expen
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Goldsmith ( 561202 )
            To me, the underlying problem is a lack of scientifically knowledgeable political leadership. Politicians don't want to hear about this and don't understand it. It would be nice if some of them were knowledgeable enough to take a critical look at the ways priorities in the grant giving agencies are determined. And really, it would be GREAT if Congress could figure out whether we have too few or too many scientists being trained in this country. My feeling is that we have far too many for the level of go
            • The problem as I see it is monoculture. There's nothing inherently wrong with lawyers, but there is something wrong with having congress composed of people of almost entirely one occupation: lawyers. We'd have problems if congress was 100% scientists, too. Monoculture is bad.

              The other lesson is to not assume that funding is always the problem. The NIH is only one example. Look at education. We throw more money at education than any other country in the world. Per capita, total, vs. % GDP, whatever measure y
              • I agree completely.

                Unfortunately, it's hard to find scientists willing to get into politics. That's why we're not getting the direction and oversight we need, and why we don't have people in Congress who can speak intelligently to a scientist. ... but a congress of 100% scientists? I'd rather have the lawyers.
      • by hazem ( 472289 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @12:30AM (#21827354) Journal
        Except that a few years ago, the government doubled funding for the NIH and the number of published articles did not correlate. The grant funding rate that you quote is from the period of rapid budget INCREASES.

        Forgive me for being very skeptical of your claims that we need to throw even MORE money at the NIH, since y'all were just as productive when we spent half as much money on you.


        So do you really think that the number of articles published is any real indicator of the productivity of NIH funded research? If that's the case, we should just ask the researchers to write more articles. Maybe they can split their bigger articles into smaller pieces? If each researcher split their articles in half we could easily double productivity!

        For $10,000 I could build a modest "super computer" (imagine a beowulf cluster) to study problems in Agent Based Simulation (and there are many such problems that are health-related). For $100,000, I could build an even better "super computer" and study more interesting problems or go deeper into my problems of interest. I really only have the capacity to produce 4 papers in a year. From which scenario do you think I'll have the opportunity to produce the most interesting papers and most useful research?

        I guess we can always just earmark the money for war-fighting instead.
        • So do you really think that the number of articles published is any real indicator of the productivity of NIH funded research?
          Actually, if peer review functioned properly as a gatekeeper to ensure the quality of published journal articles, then yes.

        • Jesus, man, at least give me the benefit of the doubt and read the link that I posted.

          No, the number of articles ALONE means nothing and that should be blatantly obvious. The problem is that the quantity of research funded did not seem to go up with the increased funding. In fact, scientists have experienced the opposite and are quite frustrated. However, like the original poster many of them seem to be under the impression that this is due to funding decreases, when in fact funding doubled. There are numer
      • Except that a few years ago, the government doubled funding for the NIH and the number of published articles did not correlate

        Thank you for highlighting one of the major problems in the scientific research community today - the fact that people think that the number of articles is a meaningful measure of value.

    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @11:41PM (#21827126) Journal
      You already know why that is the case. The feds are shifting the priorities around. During early 80's, reagan came in, and shifted a great deal of research away from civilian dollars to DOD dollars. At the time, I was working at CDC, and our funding was cut. So, I went back to the university to do work (in 83). Initially, that group was picking up funding from NIH, nfs, and musclear dystrophy association. That was all cut and DARPA picked us up with some interesting twists to the research.

      Now the problem is that DARPA is no longer doing long term research and instead is focused on only things that will pay today. Sadly, like ALL of the W. choices, this will costs America in a big way. Combine with W's tax cut for oil companies and yeah, it will be a while before research gets built back up. I feel sorry for you and the young researchers, but I feel sorrier for America. Our medium-term path, let alone long-term, is looking real bad.
    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @11:48PM (#21827158) Homepage Journal
      and with the spending going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, the sub-prime problem, potential economic recession and more leaves very little room to move.

      This is one of the better arguments I've heard for funding science through means other than governments. Governments tend to do a bad job, are subject to bloat, corruption and influence peddling, and can't be fired. Plus, as you point out, their spending priorities are inconsistent over time. This makes staffing/careers wildly difficult, which is bad for science. Private charities and foundations would be a better source for funding science. I don't know how much exists currently to support this model, but it's worth pursuing.

      Remember: Government != Society - those are two separate things, despite how much the US Government has tried to take over Society in the past century.

      Plus, charity has a morally supportable philosophy if you're not in the "the ends justify the means" camp. I really want to find (or not find) the Higgs boson, but not if somebody's property has been confiscated under threat of violence for it.
      • In theory, government has other ways of raising funds than taxing and confiscation of physical property. Import and export duties, for example. Or renting the public airwaves. Or charging an annual fee for keeping copyrighted world out of the public domain (the rights holder can self-assess what the fee would be, and anyone who can pay, say, 100x that to the rights holder could buy it out into the public domain). Or charging admission to national parks. Or renting public land. Probably lots more ways as wel
      • Funding science is exactly the kind of thing that government should be doing. It falls in with roads, parks, and libraries as the kind of thing that benefits everyone in the community. Many people (most people?) opt out of paying for such things if they are choosing individually, but are happy to if they know the choice is everyone pay or the service is gone.

        Fundamental science benefits everyone. It scares the crap out of me to see intelligent people advocating that we move toward a medieval patron model
        • Funding science is exactly the kind of thing that government should be doing. It falls in with roads, parks, and libraries as the kind of thing that benefits everyone in the community.

          You're in the "the ends justify the means" camp - I'm not. And, having just wrecked a tie-rod and [mumble] arm on a giant pothole in the middle of the Interstate, bring on the private roads. It'll save me time and money. Around here in NH most of the highways were private turnpikes for the first couple centuries, and folks
    • You act like funding is a god-given right to scientists.

      Don't get me wrong, I would like to see our scientists get ample funding so we can become a more efficient world with flying cars, fiberporn-to-the-desktop, and monkey butlers (one at first).

      Please keep in mind, that the United States of America constituted it's government as a social contract amongst men to secure life, liberty, and property. Obviously, the US Govt doesn't always stick to this and I decry those problems as well. How did our government
      • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:03AM (#21827686) Homepage Journal
        You act like funding is a god-given right to scientists.

        Hardly. However, if we are to maintain our position as a world leader, then we need to invest in research, education and development. The US got to where it is by investing big time in education (G.I. Bill and others) and science and research (NSF, NIH and others). Oh and by the way, you are sounding like one of those ignorant asses that tells a cop, "Hey, I pay your salary". Mind you that the cop and I pay our taxes as well and you are likely benefitting from tax dollars as well. Public education? Arts? Internet? etc...etc...etc...

        Don't get me wrong, I would like to see our scientists get ample funding so we can become a more efficient world with flying cars, fiberporn-to-the-desktop, and monkey butlers (one at first).

        Ah...... you are losing credibility here...

        But please don't think that scientists are someone "entitled" to tax-payer money. If a majority or even plurality of tax-payers would like science to get money, only THEN should it be the case. Wars too. (:

        Society only benefits from education and research and have voted year after year to support science as the vast majority of Americans realize its benefits.

      • Every time someone says, "the government should regulate/make a law/fund everything/give me healthcare" that person advocates for a larger government. Skateboarding isn't a crime until a gov't bean counter realizes that skateboarders take a larger share of socialized healthcare resources....etc.

        Which is unlike today's society where skateboarding in public is virtually a crime because private insurance company bean counters realize that skateboarders (or those heel skate shoes) are injured more frequently than pedestrians, how exactly? The problems that exist in big government don't disappear with big business. At this point, I'm not sure whether these problems are a consequence of bigness or simply a property of modern society. Those truly worthy are the small organizations with an idea and an ap

      • Now that the US government has out-competed all the private basic science laboratories, we're kind of stuck.

        I would be thrilled to have a company telling me what to do and paying me for it, but why should they do that when some government (US, EU, China...) will pay for basic research and grant them patent rights on the resulting engineering?

        From one point of view, what we've done gives our companies an unfair advantage. From another, it's good business. That's why our science system is being duplicated
      • "Skateboarding isn't a crime until a gov't bean counter realizes that skateboarders take a larger share of socialized healthcare resources....etc."

        Heh, here in Australia skateboarding and Universal health cover both took off in the 70's, they have both been very popular ever since and have resisted all attacks by hostile bean counters.

        "One bureaucracy must attach open-source rules to research done on it's dime. This is great news. Public dime, public property. I love it."

        I second that motion in fav
    • by overeduc8ed ( 799654 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:44AM (#21828286)
      Many of us young scientists are leaving the US, largely due to this situation. I recently graduated from a biomedically-oriented PhD program at a major California university. Including myself, about a third of the students who completed their degrees in the past year have gone to Europe or Japan or Australia. We've all seen how hard it is to get funding for a postdoc in the US now. In fact, I submitted the exact same research proposal to NIH and to a European funding agency. The NIH grant reviewers appeared to be looking for an excuse not to fund me and rejected it outright -- they claimed I had no experience with the type of research I was proposing to do, despite the fact that it directly followed from my dissertation and my previous five years of work! Totally demoralized, imagine my surprise when I found out the following month that the European agency scored me in the top 5% of their (extremely competitive) application pool.

      What we might have developing here is a serious conflict-of-interest situation. NIH grants are generally reviewed by peer researchers within our scientific specialties. Since funds are now so limited, I wouldn't be surprised if the reviewers themselves are thinking, "Well, if I score this grant favorably, that would leave less funding for my lab!"

      But I digress. Star foreign scientists and students are no longer seeing a stint in the US as obligatory. Between the increasingly dire funding situation and immigration difficulties as well as rapidly increasing prestige of non-American research, they're opting to go elsewhere.

      I also worry for the future of the US. But if the US doesn't want us back, I'll be more than happy living somewhere the people appreciate and respect science, and provide the funding to back it up.

    • From the vice-provost of CalTech, Dr. David Goodstein:

      http://www.its.caltech.edu/~dg/crunch_art.html [caltech.edu]

      "The question of how we educate our young in science lies close to the heart of the issues we have been discussing. The observation that, for hundreds of years the number of scientists had been growing exponentially means, quite simply, that the rate at which we produced scientists has always been proportional to the number of scientists that already existed. We have already seen how that process works at the
      • most of those wanting to become research professors and turn out 15 more Ph.D's. ...

        I think that more and more people who are getting terminal degrees in science are doing so with the intention of working in the private sector.
    • problem

      You want to fix the NIH funding problem? How about starting with making Bristol-Myers Squibb [wikipedia.org] pay a 50% royalty on the sales of Taxol [wikipedia.org]. If BMS paid that'd be billions of dollars right there. I find it totally insane that the National cancer Institute, NCI, spend more than $180 million of taxpayers' money to develop Taxol but BMS was given exclusive rights to the test data needed by the FDA for drug approval for only $43 million. The NCI paid more than $140 million dollars more than BMS paid them

  • I'd be interested to see if the journals that are missing out just forgot to pay their bribes on time.
  • About Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arnonymous Coward ( 1208208 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @11:25PM (#21827026)
    In this age of open communication and online access to articles, there is no reason to artificially restrict access to research results. With a movie or a song, I can understand the argument for temporarily restricting free access to fictitous "intellectual property" as part of a broader scheme to encourage art. But when we are talking about paying to view the results of a labratory experiment, what the fuck? What many people don't know is that researchers have to pay journals to be published, usually on the order of $1000-2000.
    • +2 - "what the fuck" = +1 # I agree
  • What about the NSF?
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @11:26PM (#21827030) Journal
    All of this research is paid for by OUR dollars. It should be in the open from the gitgo (unless it is something that requires classification; I am not wild about China obtaining all of our laser tech).
    • These are peer reviewed papers. A paid editor has to find competent reviewers in the same specialised field, who are not known enemies of the writer, and get their consent to review. Reviewing is unpaid work, and all the reviewer gets is a preview of a paper in return for some professional risk. It takes some hours at a minimum to read, check out the oddities, and write back ones conclusions. There are two reviewers minimum. Conflicts have to be resolved, either by the writer(s) modifying the paper or the r
      • The journals can remain private if they want to take all of those extra steps. Personally, I just want the research. I want the paper on Pubmed, you can keep all the rest of the crap.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by shura57 ( 727404 ) *
        As you noticed, the reviewers are not paid a dime. They are neither paid for the original reviews, nor for re-reviewing revised manuscripts.

        The editors are compensated somewhat, but this is a symbolic amount, not even close to the analogous compensation in non-scientific magazines. Besides, the authors pay page charges, somewhat like $50/page nowadays. Does it cost $50 to typeset a page for the web if you start with an already electronic text? Hell, I used to do this work for $10/hour and I would do a lot m
      • Reviewing is unpaid work, and all the reviewer gets is a preview of a paper in return for some professional risk. It takes some hours at a minimum to read, check out the oddities, and write back ones conclusions. There are two reviewers minimum.

        Some months back I read an article on /. about how scientists in some fields seek to do peer reviews of research. The more papers their name can be crosschecked with papers the more they can make.

        I wish I could recall what article it was so I could provide a li

  • The govt funds a lot of research through other agencies, so it would be nice to see some of that freed up as well. OTOH, I don't know that other agencies have something set up like PubMed.
  • by LauraLolly ( 229637 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @11:35PM (#21827086)

    This requirement for open publication is very nice for researchers and the public, but it's not completely new for research articles.

    At The New England Journal of Medicine [nejm.org], subscribers have full access to all content, but folks who register - for free - have access to all research articles six months old and older. At Science [sciencemag.org], registered users have access to research articles at least twelve months old back to 1997. Science and NEJM are not the only journals or organizations with this option for registered users.

    The real boon will not be in access to research articles for free, but in the ability to seach in a single location, rather than looking in forty places for information. The other real boon will be in access to summaries and reviews that are partially sponsored by NIH. There are many review articles in journals that aren't even abstracted at PubMed right now.

  • by claus.wilke ( 51904 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @11:35PM (#21827088)
    I'm all for open access, but I find the law problematic. Instead of requiring the journals to make their content available, it requires the researcher to deposit the article in a database. The result is yet another piece of paperwork we have to keep track of instead of doing research, and if we forget to deposit one of our articles, we are now breaking the law.

    The only alternative is to publish in open access journals, which is fine in principle. However, for a cash-strapped lab, it can be hard to pay open access fees for several articles a year, even with NIH funding.
    • by JanneM ( 7445 )
      The only alternative is to publish in open access journals, which is fine in principle. However, for a cash-strapped lab, it can be hard to pay open access fees for several articles a year, even with NIH funding.

      You're in luck. As it turns out, Open Access journals are actually cheaper to publish in for the authors than for-profit journals, with most of them charging no author fees at all:
      http://www.sennoma.net/main/archives/2007/12/if_it_wont_sink_in_maybe_we_ca.php [sennoma.net]

      And that is before you factor in that Ope
    • by angio ( 33504 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:02AM (#21827682) Homepage
      As an academic researcher funded by the NSF and DARPA, among other sources, I'd simply point out that registering a copy of a published paper isn't a particularly onerous burden. NSF requires multiple-page yearly reports; DARPA requires the same on a quarterly basis. The NSF reports already require listing the bibliographic information for every paper published as a result of the research. It's actually very much in a researcher's interest to track these things carefully anyway---it's one way to show that you're doing what you promised with the grant and that your work is having an impact. While I don't publish in PubMed-related areas, I and many others I know in computer science already take care to upload new papers to indexes like CiteSeer [psu.edu]. It benefits everyone---including the authors---to have your work more readily available and easy to find via major databases like PubMed.

      This change is a good thing.
    • by cyclop ( 780354 )
      Do you mean posting an article to arXiv.org is too much work for you? Sheesh, it's a 30 minutes stuff.
    • I'm all for open access, but I find the law problematic. Instead of requiring the journals to make their content available, it requires the researcher to deposit the article in a database. The result is yet another piece of paperwork we have to keep track of instead of doing research, and if we forget to deposit one of our articles, we are now breaking the law.

      The only alternative is to publish in open access journals, which is fine in principle. However, for a cash-strapped lab, it can be hard to pay open

    • The only alternative is to publish in open access journals, which is fine in principle. However, for a cash-strapped lab, it can be hard to pay open access fees for several articles a year, even with NIH funding.

      Why would a lab have to pay open access fees? As long as it is digital it should be easy to submit the research to a database like PubMed [nih.gov].

      Falcon
  • obmeme (Score:3, Funny)

    by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @11:46PM (#21827148) Homepage Journal
    All your research are belong to allofus.
  • Open access (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_kanzure ( 1100087 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @12:09AM (#21827256) Homepage
    Suber's overview of the scene [earlham.edu] (there's an rss feed somewhere in there too)
    - another blog [sennoma.net]
    Alliance for Taxpayer Access [taxpayeraccess.org]
    Directory of Open Access Journals [doaj.org]
    Directory of Open Access Repositories [opendoar.org]
    The "Open Knowledge" Definition [opendefinition.org]
    And Wikipedia has lots of text on the subject.
  • Now to go after NSF funded research as well
  • "The government"? Of which country? Perhaps this new World Government(tm) i hear so much about.
  • by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @01:01AM (#21827454)

    Those media companies getting rich selling journals, like the ACS, don't like it, but everyone else will.
    That comment sure came out of the blue. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization [acs.org].

    Isn't the idea of being a nonprofit, you know, I mean, like, not getting rich?

    • That comment sure came out of the blue. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization.

      Maybe it's the American Ceramics Society? [ceramics.org] :D

      Isn't the idea of being a nonprofit, you know, I mean, like, not getting rich?

      Non-profit is just a nice way of saying wealth redistribution to serve your own interest. Non-profits seek to control more and more wealth, not to mention the personal gains of the controllers as they pay themselves through administrative fees.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Toonol ( 1057698 )
      A non-profit can:

      1) Pay employees well, even extravagantly, in order to keep the 'best' management.
      2) Use income to grow, adding mission creep and bloat.
      3) Spend the money on nearly anything, calling it an investment.

      Non-profits love profit, and will never have any shortage of ideas on how to spend it.
    • I agree!

      As someone who works in the field, I can say that the ACS publishes relevant and fairly reasonably priced journals. While mass-subscription journals like Science and Nature have lower subscription fees, I suspect that the ACS just about breaks even on its publishing costs.

      Companies like Elsevier are the bad actors in the publishing world... I suspect that the summary author doesn't actually known anything about journals and publications, which is the only possible reason the ACS could have been cit
    • Yeah if the submitter wanted evil publishers, the worst of the worst has long been Elsevier [wikipedia.org].
  • The only "news" here is that the bill was passed -- after the program was implemented. I could access NIH funded work from my office in NIDCD. Anyone could walk in off the street and use the National Library of Medicine's library computers and do the same. Yeah, you had to be in Bethesda to do that, but it was in process in 2002. They started allowing the more directly controlled NIH work to be accessed from off campus in 2004. Since then they've been convincing the journal publishers this was going to happ
  • by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @03:43AM (#21827922) Journal

    This is a tremendous asset to researchers

    It is, but is it only to them?

    The assumption that research is useful only or primarily for researchers must stop: This assumption undermines the open access idea (it goes like this: "since research is read only by researchers, and most of them probably get access from their institutions or have the money to buy access if this is their job, there are no strong drivers for the adoption of open access"). This is wrong. Everyone can, should, and in many cases does read research.

    Apart from researchers in the same field, there are other professional researchers from other fields who may be interested to read, for example a physicist may want to broad their horizons by reading some of the latest finds in archaeology. There are also the amateur researchers and gentleman scientists who may not have an official position in academia but nevertheless they also do research. But research can, should, and sometimes is being read by students as well. Moreover, even the general public should, and sometimes may, read some research if there is easy access to it.

    Research must be democratised and ideally everything should be done publicly on a wiki (by the way I recently started CosmosWiki [cosmoswiki.org] to support this idea). If research was more easily accessible and approachable, perhaps more people would take the steps to learn more about the world and become amateur or even professional researchers, and people's kids would perhaps feel more inclined to study science instead of becoming supermodels or office employees.

    One could say that the public should read books instead of research, but the problem is that there are not enough authors who are capable of translating science in simple terms, therefore books often do not fully capture the available research in a meaningful way, and books quickly become outdated, and most importantly it usually takes a few years until the newest trends in research start appearing in book form. Therefore, if you only read books, you get maybe only 10-20% of what you could get by reading research papers (and when I say papers I mean real papers with actual results, not papers written simply to put one's name in a conference or spend a grant - you usually can distinguish betweenthe two categories of papers by checking whether the conclusions are testable or repeatable and whether the author makes extremely broad claims about the importance of their paper). I believe everyone should spend some time every week to skim through the most interesting papers on arxiv [arxiv.org] and similar sites where papers can be downloaded for free. Even though you may not understand everything, usually you can get the basic idea and keep yourself updated on the newest scientific findings.

    We need to make people more inclined to integrate science in their daily lives. Open access can help with this. But another danger comes from the researchers themselves: They often assume that what they write is read only by people who are in their field. Papers authors should write keping in mind that interdisciplinary researchers or even students (and when I say students I also mean high school nerds, not only those in university) and the general public may read their paper, and they should do so without compromising the quality of their papers. For example, they could explain the various shorthands or abbreviations they use, rather than assume that every reader is familiar with them. So, please, when you write your next paper include a brief list of abbreviations to help people who need to search in order to understand some words or symbols they are unfamiliar with.

    I really wonder why people generally don't understand these ideas... How can one in their right mind be more interested to learn the most uninteresting trivia about their favourite basketball player but not this [arxiv.org]? (by the way this guy is real

  • Must be /. judging by the level of the article and the comments. First, government funded research is normally free from copyright. Second, no one is getting rich from publishing academic journals.

    Third, why am I wasting my time commenting? My only residual interest in /. has been the humor, and there's almost none of that these days, and this article is an especially unlikely venue. Perhaps karma for funny mods would help--but I doubt it.
    • by cyclop ( 780354 )

      Second, no one is getting rich from publishing academic journals.

      Yes, seriously. I guess Wiley, ACS, Macmillan and the like just do publishing for fun. Too bad their "fun" costs a lot of money that is drained out of taxpayers' wallets and research funds.

      • by shanen ( 462549 )
        Not at all, and quit trying to twist my words. The primary effect is to mark you as intellectually dishonest.

        Your extension to draining money "out of taxpayers' wallets and research funds" just marks you as a fuzzy thinker. Or do you think publishing is a magical free activity that has no actual costs associated with it?

        Yes, some publishers are making some money some of the time. What I said was that they are certainly not getting rich at it, and you certainly don't see any hordes of desperate newcomers try
        • by cyclop ( 780354 )

          Or do you think publishing is a magical free activity that has no actual costs associated with it?

          It has costs. But not costs that justify the monstrous fees these journals want to read their papers. How much does it cost to publish on arXiv? Do we need to pay much more, really? Why don't we simply extend and fund a global, free database like arXiv?

          The problem is, the whole scientific publication model is nonsense. We publish on journals where the authors are not paid a dime, if they don't have to pay

  • I would like to see something similar done for the AskERIC database. Currently there's a whole lot of information there, but occasionally I run into an article from some journal that my school doesn't get, and which would cost me a lot to subscribe. I don't even want to subscribe I just want the one article. I'm trying to improve practices in my classroom, or find some research to support some suspicions I have about classroom practices. I find that it's better to go to management with research backing

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.

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