[Taxacom] OSTP request for information on Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From US Federally Funded Research

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Sun Mar 1 15:34:18 CST 2020


Its a good thing that some of those outrageous overheads are making Taxacom
possible.

On Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 4:00 PM Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
wrote:

> I must admit that I added the word "pointless" in there just to test if
> John Grehan was reading! Note however that the word can be left out without
> diminishing the point I was trying to make. Endless biogeographical debates
> may not be strictly speaking "pointless", but clearly any benefits from
> them are "modest", to say the least!
> Stephen
>
> On Sunday, 1 March 2020, 08:50:00 pm UTC, John Grehan <
> calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> couldn't let "pointless debates on biogeography" slip by :) OK as a
> personal opinion - obviously pointless for Stephen, and maybe others, but
> whether its pointless or not depends on one's perspective. Its like one
> person's poison is anther's cure.
>
> John Grehan
>
> On Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 3:30 PM Stephen Thorpe via Taxacom <
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
>
>  Hi again Carlos,"Sorry for the long email. I didn't have time to write a
> shorter one." - Hilarious! :)Anyway, I have some comments regarding your
> economic analysis. To my mind, the issue is independent of the *amount* of
> tax that anyone pays. I don't expect anyone (rich or poor) will pay more
> tax in order to cover OA fees for scientific literature. It is more about
> how existing taxes are spent. Now, in a fair system, taxes are spent on
> things which benefit everyone, rather than being biased to the benefit of
> the interests of the wealthy. Money spent on OA cannot be spent on other
> things like healthcare, welfare, etc. (which is not to say that the money
> would be spent on such things, but in theory it could be). Large scale OA
> creates a money sink which, in the long run, takes billions (trillions
> even) out of the system and pumps it into the corporate coffers of
> scientific institutions (possibly partly resulting in greater bonuses and
> perks for the managers of such institutions). So, the fact that the
> wealthy, via their taxes, may be paying for most of the total OA cost is
> actually irrelevant. That money still only really benefits the wealthy few
> (in the science industry) and I don't see any other real benefits for the
> majority of mankind (i.e. what are the benefits of access to endless
> phylogenetic analyses on beetles or whatever, or pointless debates on
> biogeography, etc.?) Note also that, as far as I can make out, at least
> here in New Zealand, when an institution of some kind gets an external
> grant, the first thing that happens is that they claim up to 50% of it as
> overheads (the exact proportion doesn't alter my point), and then have to
> spend the remaining 50% on "approved" work/research. If they can
> strategically ditch some of that remaining 50% quickly and effortlessly on
> OA fees, then they have to do less actual work/research to justify that
> grant, so less research gets done for the same amount of public research
> funding. The institutions benefit financially from this, but I wouldn't
> call it a win for science or for mankind! It is simply a less efficient use
> of funding from the point of view of outputs, and, again, it benefits the
> wealthy few in the science industry! This fits a pattern which I think I
> can see in the world, whereby the wealthy devise intitiatives, sometimes,
> as in this case, under a guise of "public good", but simply designed to
> divert more money their way. Another example was a recent research project
> by a university around here, which was externally funded by a charitable
> trust (whose chairman was a professor on staff of the university), and
> which was pitched as climate change research, but was actually total
> nonsense which could not possibly conclude anything meaningful, but which
> was heavily loaded with expenses (travel, accommodation, etc.) No "watchdog
> agency" gave a damn about it, arguably because they are all part of a
> system set up to look after its own financial interests! I'm not suggesting
> any particular corrupt system, just that "the system" (worldwide) is set up
> by the wealthy to look after its own interests first and foremost. I'm
> seeing OA (and OS) as potentially fitting the same pattern.Cheers,Stephen
>     On Sunday, 1 March 2020, 09:39:11 am UTC, Carlos Alberto Martínez
> Muñoz <biotemail at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>  Hi Stephen,Thank you for this question. First some context."As for the
> most likely outcome from USA, I would point out that it already has a
> well-entrenched history of most of the wealth being in the hands of the
> few, and taxpayer funded OA fees for every single item of low interest
> scientific research output would fit the established pattern!"I do agree in
> that USA "has a well-entrenched history of most of the wealth being in the
> hands of the few". And I also agree in that "taxpayer funded OA fees for
> (...) scientific research output would fit the established pattern". What
> we need to clarify here is the pattern you are talking about. In USA,
> concentration of wealth and tax burden are better synchronized than in
> Europe. Europe has a more generous safety net than USA and, in order to
> fund it, high taxes. In order to raise enough revenue, these taxes fall
> disproportionately on the poor, middle and upper middle class. Denmark has
> one of the highest top income tax rates in the Organization for Economic
> Cooperation and Development, 55.9 percent, but that rate is applied to
> anyone making 1.3 times the average national income. In the United States,
> this would mean that any income above $65,000 would be taxed at the rate of
> 55.9 percent. In fact, the highest tax rate in the United States, 43.7
> percent, applies to income that is 9.3 times the national average, which
> means that only those with incomes over approximately $500,000 pay this
> rate. Yes, I occasionally read the Washington Post.
> Why am I pointing this out? Because I want to illustrate the fact that
> while in Europe we may all be carrying the cost of open access in a
> disproportionate way across economic classes, in USA that cost is not
> likely to aggravate the tax burden of the poor, middle and upper middle
> class. In USA it is the top notch of the wealthy few who will carry the tax
> burden of funds destined to open access. However, this would be a
> solidarian tax, in the sense that the wealthy top notch will benefit from
> open access too. So, Stephen, it is unlikely that in a mandated
> publicly-funded OA publishing model most scientists will be paying for open
> access from their pockets, at least in USA. Instead, they will stop paying
> for it, unless that some of them have a hidden fortune that we don't know
> about. And if those wealthy few get a reason to worry about how much money
> they have to contribute to rip-off private publishing, then they will
> quickly become supporters of a non-profit academic press.
>
> "...Pensoft seemingly doing very well indeed by charging fairly
> substantial fees and not having to worry if anyone actually ever reads
> anything! I don't know the financial details, of course, but does Pensoft
> in its present form fit your vision for an OA future, and, if not, is it
> likely to change, do you think?"Part 1.  "...not having to worry if anyone
> actually ever reads anything!". It is not the main interest of a private
> publisher in the current OA model to worry about anyone reading anything.
> Research institutions are mandated to publish and the private publishers
> are happy to get clients. As long as metrics and economic incentives are
> put on number of publications and not on quality, this will continue to be
> this way. However, there are already advocates for "slow science" and
> hopefully at some point we will start slowly fixing a system that was
> corrupted by metrics more than 40 years ago. This I can promise, it will
> take a lot of time, effort and also a capacity for logical thinking that
> seems to be lacking, even among scientists.Part 2. Even if it is not their
> main interest, private publishers do worry if someone reads something. The
> Web of Science is well remembered for its bragging about "we index the best
> science" and "we have the most cited journals", and publishers want that.
> The current system just counts citations without scoring them, even if the
> initial idea of Garfield (1955) was to score negative citations too. But
> negative citations are difficult to score and not good for private-driven
> ecosystems. They directly and negatively affect engagement. That's why you
> won't find a dislike button in Facebook, for example. However, 65 years
> after Garfield's initial ideas, technologies for counting negative
> citations are emerging.Part 3. "...your vision for an OA future...". I
> don't have a vision for an OA future. I have a vision for an Open Science
> (OS) future. That is a vision shared by Europe and USA. You can see that
> the OSTP request is not just about OA but about OS. It includes not only
> publications but also data and code.Part 4. "...does Pensoft in its present
> form fit your vision for an OA future, and, if not, is it likely to change,
> do you think?". Pensoft indeed fitted the vision of the European Commission
> on OA. They are a private publisher, they pay taxes and as part of that
> solidarian tax that I mentioned above, they have received EC co-funding for
> developing informatic tools fostering OA. As a publisher, they have
> benefitted from their own taxes and from a symbiotic relationship with the
> public sector. Pensoft was able to further develop the Pensoft Writing Tool
> into the ARPHA Writing Tool, which is what we see today within their
> platform. The vision of the European Commission then evolved from OA to OS,
> and Pensoft evolved with it. They have co-developed and continue to
> co-develop open source software for open science and biodiversity
> informatics applications. My critics to Pensoft are that the ARPHA WT
> continues to be proprietary software and that there are economic barriers
> to publishing with Pensoft. Small journals may not find affordable to
> publish with Pensoft while getting the services that the journal needs.
> Also, the current open source tools that Pensoft is developing with EC
> co-funding continue adding value to their AWT proprietary software. Using
> public funding in a way that adds value to proprietary software may or may
> not be restricted in the near future. But that is EC's call, not mine.
>
> What I would recommend for USA is to develop an Open Science Cloud, and to
> implement publicly funded, non-profit OA journals as an integral part of
> that cyber-infrastructure. I think that Canada may well like to join in
> building a North American Open Science Cloud. The Public Knowledge Project,
> a distributed initiative involving institutions from both countries, could
> contribute its 20+ years experience in the development of innovative online
> environments. And of course, as a wealthy and worried billionaire, I would
> consider injecting funds for developing the Open Journal Systems and
> upgrade that open source publishing platform to present day biodiversity
> informatics publishing standards.
>
> Sorry for the long email. I didn't have time to write a shorter
> one.Cheers,Carlos
>
>
> Carlos A. Martínez MuñozZoological Museum, Biodiversity UnitFI-20014
> University of TurkuFinlandResearchGate profileMyriapod Morphology and
> Evolution
>
>
>
> El sáb., 29 feb. 2020 a las 23:06, Stephen Thorpe (<
> stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>) escribió:
>
>  Hi Carlos,Very interesting! As for the most likely outcome from USA, I
> would point out that it already has a well-entrenched history of most of
> the wealth being in the hands of the few, and taxpayer funded OA fees for
> every single item of low interest scientific research output would fit the
> established pattern! Even in Europe, there has been, for many years now,
> Pensoft seemingly doing very well indeed by charging fairly substantial
> fees and not having to worry if anyone actually ever reads anything! I
> don't know the financial details, of course, but does Pensoft in its
> present form fit your vision for an OA future, and, if not, is it likely to
> change, do you think?Cheers, Stephen
>
>     On Saturday, 29 February 2020, 06:56:34 pm UTC, Carlos Alberto
> Martínez Muñoz via Taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
>
>  Hi Taxacomers,
> It is true that paying for Open Access could be a rip-off, but that is only
> a partial truth, in one of at least two possible scenarios. The rip-off is
> not inherent to OA itself but to the publication system being based mostly
> in for-profit publishers with high profit margins. For companies like
> Elsevier, this is as high as 37% of the total cost, which is higher than
> the profit margin of oil companies.
> However, it is clear now that journals are research infrastructures and
> that publicly funded academic journals (jobs included) are an integral part
> of the data life cycle and of existing physical infrastructures. It is
> evident to the European Commission that the current moral imperative and
> ethics towards taxpayers is not just about open access but about how much
> is lost in private publishers' profit margins. With this I want to say that
> private publishers are already experiencing the economic effects of a
> change of paradigm at the European level. Regardless of the platform or
> software, we will build a distributed, pan-European academic press in the
> upcoming years. The best current example that I know is the European
> Journal of Taxonomy.
> Of course, not all the science is publicly funded and private publishers
> have a role to play in both publishing and innovating. About private
> innovation, we should also not lose sight that part of it is also co-funded
> with public funds (rip-off included!). If well managed, there could be a
> symbiotic interaction, benefiting both the public sector and the private
> sector, instead of the predatory interaction that exists today.
> In summary, we will implement the necessary measures to close the research
> cycle within academic infrastructures. USA could do the same too in quite a
> short time, as there have been voices calling for more support to academic
> press. With non-profit academic journals, we could save up to one-third of
> publishing and access expenses and invest those in publishing more,
> expanding access and improving the current cyber-infrastructures. Now, if
> in USA you do mandate open access but don't change the publishing paradigm,
> then yes, Stephen Thorpe will be totally right, it will be a big rip-off,
> with (for example) publication and access charges rising 5% per year while
> the university sector will be growing just 1% per year. You could use your
> freedom and your democracy for voting against open access, or you could use
> it for voting for integrating non-profit publishing into academia. Up to
> you!
> Cheers,
>
> Carlos A. Martínez Muñoz
> Zoological Museum, Biodiversity Unit
> FI-20014 University of Turku
> Finland
> ResearchGate profile
> <https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Carlos_Martinez-Munoz>
> Myriapod Morphology and Evolution
> <https://www.facebook.com/groups/205802113162102/>
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