[Taxacom] Paywall our taxonomic tidbit

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Jan 15 13:58:58 CST 2016

Rod is looking at the issue from Rod's perspective. For me personally, open access would also be a good thing, but I am not just looking at it from my own perspective! Also, as far as I know, University library subscriptions to journals are not paid for by public money!


On Fri, 15/1/16, Roderic Page <Roderic.Page at glasgow.ac.uk> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paywall our taxonomic tidbit
 To: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Friday, 15 January, 2016, 9:15 PM
 Reading this thread
 suggests that there’s still a lot to do to make the case
 for Open Access. There seems to be confusion and
 misunderstanding about some of the motivations behind making
 academic literature freely available to all.
 If you have 8 minutes to
 spare, here's a nice video from PhD comics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5rVH1KGBCY
 Regarding the arguments about
 public money, the traditional model is something like
 1. Public fund
 scientists to do research
 2. Public funds
 university libraries to pay millions per year to subscribe
 to journals so researchers can read the literature
 3. Public doesn’t have access to that
 Step 2 is
 incredibly profitable for some publishers, see https://libraries.mit.edu/scholarly/mit-open-access/open-access-at-mit/mit-open-access-policy/publishers-and-the-mit-faculty-open-access-policy/elsevier-fact-sheet/
 . An academic at a university is mostly sheltered from
 these issues because it is free to publish your paper, and
 “free” to read most papers (if you library has bought a
 subscription). If you can’t get a paper you may be able to
 use your network of contacts to get a copy. So, at first
 glance it’s often hard to see what the fuss is about.
 Open access changes 2 and
 1. Public fund
 scientists to do research
 2. Public funds
 costs of publishing in open access journals
 3. Public has free access to that research
 For academics (assuming you
 have grant funding for publication charges) little changes,
 you publish your work and you can read it for free. But now
 the public has access.
 Perhaps even more importantly, the work is
 “free” not just in the sense of beer but in terms of
 liberty. We can do things such as translate the text into
 other computer formats, other human languages, mine it for
 facts, index the text in databases to make it easy to
 search, and so on. There is a huge interest in text mining
 the literature, which publishers have not always been
 helpful about enabling (see http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/495295a and http://contentmine.org ). If article are
 locked behind a paywall much of this is difficult, if not
 impossible to do. If the only way to get many articles is by
 appealing to colleagues (e.g., the #icanhazpdf emails often
 seen on TAXACOM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICanHazPDF
 ) then large scale text mining won’t work.
 It may well be that much of
 the literature is of little immediately apparent value, but
 just because this may be the case now this need not always
 be the case. Anyone who has used the Biodiversity Heritage
 Library (BHL) http://biodiversitylibrary.org will have
 come across obscure little papers that capture data that
 today may be very useful (e.g., checklists of species found
 in environments that have since vanished or been modified,
 or for countries that are currently hard to access). To
 assert that we know the value of all current research for
 all time is *cough* premature. As an aside, imagine if ALL
 taxonomic literature was free to search and read in BHL - is
 this not something that would be incredibly useful?
 As someone who is an academic
 but who has no grant funding, and as a former editor of a
 journal, I completely get that open access publication fees
 can be a financial obstacle to authors, especially in a
 field with limited funds or where many people working are
 not academics. Nothing in life is free, publishing costs
 money. Some journals have fairly steep author fees, some are
 exploring much smaller charges based (e.g., http://peerj.com
 There are lost of
 issues around open access, but there are much bigger issues
 at stake than simply how much it costs to publish an
 article. And I’d argue that for a field that is constantly
 complaining about how it is undervalued by the wider
 scientific community, any notion that we shouldn’t be
 doing everything possible to maximise the accessibility of
 our work seems, at best, short sighted.
 Roderic Page
 Professor of
 Institute of Biodiversity, Animal
 Health and Comparative Medicine
 College of
 Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
 Kerr Building
 University of Glasgow
 Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
 Email:  Roderic.Page at glasgow.ac.uk<mailto:Roderic.Page at glasgow.ac.uk>
 Tel:  +44 141 330 4778
 Skype:  rdmpage
 Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/rdmpage
 LinkedIn:  http://uk.linkedin.com/in/rdmpage
 Twitter:  http://twitter.com/rdmpage
 Blog:  http://iphylo.blogspot.com
 ORCID:  http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7101-9767
 Citations:  http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?hl=en&user=4Z5WABAAAAAJ
 ResearchGate https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Roderic_Page
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