[Taxacom] Paywall our taxonomic tidbit

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Jan 17 14:02:46 CST 2016


No, that is a red herring. I don't really care what our taxes are spent on. My objection to open access is that public good is being used to defend it when the public gets nothing that they want, and clearly there is something else entirely behind all the pro open access lobbying. I am also concerned that it will result in less taxonomic research being done, due to a proportion of the funding being diverted to open access fees (ultimately ending up as publisher's profits). Maybe USA is awash in excess funding, but N.Z. not so much!


On Mon, 18/1/16, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paywall our taxonomic tidbit
 To: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Cc: "Lynn Raw" <lynn at afriherp.org>, "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Monday, 18 January, 2016, 8:42 AM
 Stephen's latest
 seems to indicate that one should not pay taxes towards that
 for whom the individual is not interested in paying for. I
 might not, for example, be interested to pay towards
 exploration of the moon etc. etc. Some think the
 'public' in general should not pay for road upkeep,
 but just the user should pay. In the US there is a user pays
 approach to health 'care' through insurance which
 causes well known problems of access. Its a philosophy.
 There are of course other philosophies.
 John Grehan
 On Sun, Jan 17, 2016
 at 2:19 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 I don't think that I am the one confusing different
 issues at all.
 >When the research is paid for by ‘the public” then
 there should be an obligation for this to be made freely
 available to “the public” whether they are interested or
 That is a moot point, which does sound analogous to
 helping the proverbial old lady across the road who
 doesn't want to cross the road! But let's accept it
 for the sake of argument. The crucial point is that open
 access makes nothing "freely available"! Let's
 try to grasp an analogy. I always travel by public transport
 (bus and train), so I buy monthly passes at the start of
 each month. Then I have unlimited travel for that month. But
 it is not "free" travel! I have just paid for it
 in advance, that's all. Same with open access, except it
 is worse because most of the public have no interest in
 reading most of what they would have paid for in advance
 under open access!
 The second crucial point is that public money for open
 access fees will either result in the public paying more
 towards research (with nothing they particularly want in
 return), or, most likely, it will result in less research
 being done for the same amount of funding (because a
 proportion of it is spent on open access fees). Either way,
 the public doesn't benefit!
 On Mon, 18/1/16, Lynn Raw <lynn at afriherp.org>
  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paywall our taxonomic tidbit
  To: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
  Cc: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu"
 <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
  Received: Monday, 18 January, 2016, 3:07 AM
  Are you
  confusing different issues? When the research is paid for
  ‘the public” then there should be an obligation for
  to be made freely available to “the public” whether
  are interested or not. Admittedly, perhaps this should
  be limited to the residents/taxpayers of the countries
  concerned (i.e., EU member states for EU-funded
  As pointed out previously, some countries already publish
  the reports resulting from government-funded research on
  their own websites (e.g. randd.defra.gov.uk). As
  proportion of the average
 person’s annual tax bill the
  amount spent on funding taxonomy compared to the overall
  research budget is likely to be sufficiently minuscule to
  virtually undetectable. In the case of corporation-funded
  research (unlikely to involve taxonomy) then this is
  to be either unpublished and closely guarded for
  advantage or published for general information and used
  obtain publicity. In this case the open-access model
  be the appropriate advertising choice. Funding by
  is also likely to follow the publicity route with the
  open-access model. This leaves researcher-funded research
  where the open-access model is probably desirable but
  likely to be unaffordable. This type of research is also
  more likely to concern the many non-affiliated
  who also need the availability of open-access
  to conduct their research. Maybe it is time to focus on
  solutions to this particular problem rather than debate
  bigger picture.
  On 17 Jan
  2016, at 05:06, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
  Yes Elena, clearly something is going
  on here under the surface "philanthropy". Note
  that either way, the public has to pay to read taxonomic
  literature, just either (1) they choose what they want to
  read and pay for it (standard model); or (2) they pay in
  advance for every single thing that they might want to
  (open access). Hmmm...
  On Sun, 17/1/16, Elena Kupriyanova
  <Elena.Kupriyanova at austmus.gov.au>
  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paywall our taxonomic tidbit
   To: "'gread at actrix.gen.nz'"
  <gread at actrix.gen.nz>
   Cc: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu"
  <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
   Received: Sunday, 17 January, 2016,
  5:35 PM
  Dear Geoff and et al.,
   I have a strange feeling that 
  as a hypothetical 30
   year old
  long-distance truck driver fascinated by beetles
   you would be looking for a
  well-illustrated BOOK (not a
  Zootaxa article) on beetles of New Zealand. It is
   that you would be
  complaining when you learn that you either
   would need to buy such a book or to
  drive (walk) to a
   library to
  borrow it. Would this be a case of restricting
   what people can  read because
  it's not directly
   relevant to
  their current job or place in society? We all
   buy books, don't we? Why is it ok
  for us to buy or borrow
   book, but
  at the same time we are convinced that scientific
   journals should be available to us
  instantly at a mouse
   click? I am
  confused now...
   Dr. Elena
   Senior Research
   Marine Invertebrates
   Records of the Australian
  Australian Museum Research Institute
   1 William Street Sydney NSW 2010
   t 61 2 9320
  6340   m 61402735679   f 61 2 9320
   Visit: http://www.australianmuseum.net.au
   Like: http://www.facebook.com/australianmuseum
   Follow: http://www.twitter.com/austmus
   Watch: http://www.youtube.com/austmus
   Inspiring the exploration of nature
  and cultures
   -----Original Message-----
   From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]
   On Behalf Of Geoffrey Read
   Sent: Friday, 15 January 2016 4:53
   To: Stephen Thorpe
   Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
   Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paywall our
  taxonomic tidbit
   I admire your persistence Stephen!
  say I'm a 30 year old long-distance truck
   driver.  It's okay, but as a
  child I collected beetles
   and I
  still dream of becoming a biologist.
   Maybe it won't happen but I'm
  planning to go to university
  I've saved up. Meantime I'm fascinated by the
   on beetles at Zootaxa,
  and need them to identify what I see
   in my garden. I contribute to
  Naturewatch too on my days
  Damn, so many of the articles are paywalled! It's
   really frustrating.
  Stephen, I reckon truck drivers too should be able to
   read Zootaxa articles gratis and
  without begging for them if
  it's easy enough for us to make it so.  And I
   in not restricting what
  people can do or read because it's
   not directly relevant to their
  current job or place in
   On Fri, January 15, 2016 6:10 pm,
  Stephen Thorpe wrote:
  But Geoff, you are a
  taxonomist and therefore not a
   member of the
  public (in the relevant sense). The
  public should not
  have to pay so
  that you just might find
  something interesting in
   articles that aren't
  directly relevant to your work (or at
  least they should
  given the
  informed choice of whether or not to
  pay). Don't think
  about it just
  from your perspective.
  Think instead of how much demand
   their really
  is for many taxonomic papers, stacked
  against the cost
  making all
  of them freely available to everybody.
  There is a
  "hiding information away"
  versus using public money to
   make it
  available to everyone, when only a
  handful of
  specialists are remotely interested in reading it.
  On Fri, 15/1/16, Geoff Read <gread at actrix.gen.nz>
  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paywall our taxonomic
    To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
    Received: Friday, 15 January,
  2016, 5:17 PM
  say " absolutely no point in paying
   publishers up
  front  to make
  the  publications
  available freely to everybody in
   the world"
  idea that we should restrict access, hide
   away  information
  the  public, and make it
  difficult to read our
  works is abhorrent  to
  Fortunately we've come a long way in my lifetime
   towards  open
  exchange and  discussion - the
  internet as the
  shining example, and 
  special mention to  the access
  via BHL which has
  revolutionized our
  work as  taxonomists
  more  recently.
    Every paper published in
  Zootaxa today was
  paywalled. I  don't have a 
  subscription, so I don't have the
  access to Zootaxa
  that I  know you
  do,  but I'm
  interested in dipping into a wide
   range of taxonomy 
  I see  something on the spot that
  just might be
  reading but  is
  outside my  narrow
  specialty. It helps me with my
   own work and it's
  good  to see other  ways of
  doing things,
  interpretations of the code,
  and the  new techniques 
  used. To do that
  today I need to write ten
  begging letters,  and wait.
  Or  pay 140
  dollars ($14 per paper).  So
  I'll look at none  of
    Yesterday was short paper day
  at Zootaxa - every
  one of  those six
  was  paywalled
  (including one from a colleague at
  but could  have so
  easily have been open access
   and read much more 
  widely for just  lunch money for
  most of the
  or around a taxi
  fare  if their 
  employer pays. Hence my
   amazement that people
  not do  that when they  had
  the chance.
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]
    On Behalf Of
    Stephen Thorpe
    Sent: Friday, 15 January 2016
  2:46 p.m.
    To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu;
    Elena Kupriyanova
    <Elena.Kupriyanova at austmus.gov.au>
    Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paywall
  our taxonomic
    I like your post because I am
  trying to get
  to think  this
  matter  through, and
  your post shows that you are
   starting to do 
  that. There  appears to be a
  significant group who
  are lobbying for
  open  access,
  even  though, as you correctly
   point out, it is usually
  not very  hard to get  hold
  of publications
  free, even when they
  are not open  access.
  What  matters is that
   the people who need to
  read the publications  can
  read  them. There
   is absolutely no point
  paying publishers up  front to
  make  the
  punlications available freely
  to everybody in the world,  given
  that  only
   a few
  people will ever
  need to read most of
    Somthing very dodgy
    is going on here - those who
  stand to gain
  financially from  open
  access  are lobbying hard in
  favour of it! No
  surprises there,  really
    On Fri, 15/1/16, Elena
  Kupriyanova <Elena.Kupriyanova at austmus.gov.au>
     Subject: Re:
  [Taxacom] Paywall our
  taxonomic tidbit
  "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu"
    <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
     Received: Friday, 15
  January, 2016,
     Dear colleagues,
     I am really confused
  by now re what
  point of this
     discussion is.
  Should we make our
  taxonomic papers open
  or should we use our grant
   money to do so
  instead  of
  for it out our own pockets? I
   honestly cannot
  see  any
  - whenever I need a paper, I
   just write to the
     author and ask for a
  pdf. I am happy
  send my own papers
  anybody who cares to read them
   (gosh, where is a
     they might even cite
  me ;) Besides,
     Dr. Elena
     Senior Research
    Taxacom Mailing List
    Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
  The Taxacom Archive
  back to 1992 may be
  searched at:
  Celebrating 29 years of Taxacom in 2016.
   Geoffrey B. Read, Ph.D.
   8 Zaida Way, Maupuia
   Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
   gread at actrix.gen.nz
   Taxacom Mailing List
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  29 years of Taxacom in 2016.
   OPENS 28
   Taxacom Mailing List
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  be searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
  29 years of Taxacom in 2016.
  Taxacom Mailing List
  Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
  The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may
  be searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
  29 years of Taxacom in 2016.
 Taxacom Mailing List
 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 Celebrating 29 years of Taxacom in 2016.

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