Yo OA wackanuts! My funding agencies do set the rules for where I publish.

@mbeisen is on fire on the Twitts:

@ianholmes @eperlste @dgmacarthur @caseybergman and i'm not going to stop calling things as they are to avoid hurting people's feelings

Why? Open Access to scientific research, naturally. What else? There were a couple of early assertions that struck me as funny including

@eperlste @ianholmes @dgmacarthur @caseybergman i think the "i should have to right to choose where to publish" argument is bullshit

and

@eperlste @ianholmes @dgmacarthur @caseybergman funding agencies can set rules for where you can publish if you take their money

This was by way of answering a Twitt from @ianholmes that set him off, I surmise:

@eperlste @dgmacarthur how I decide where to pub is kinda irrelevant. The point is, every scientist MUST have the freedom to decide for self

This whole thing is getting ridiculous. I don't have the unfettered freedom to decide where to publish my stuff and it most certainly is an outcome of the funding agency, in my case the NIH.

Here are the truths that we hold to be self-evident at present time. The more respected the journal in which we publish our work, the better the funding agency "likes" it. This encompasses the whole process from initial peer review of the grant applications, to selection for funding (sometimes via exception pay) to the ongoing review of program officers. It extends not just from the present award, but to any future awards I might be seeking to land.

Where I publish matters to them. They make it emphatically clear in ever-so-many-ways that the more prestigious the journal (which generally means higher IF, but not exclusively this), the better my chances of being continuously funded.

So I agree with @mbeisen about the "I have the right to choose where I publish is bullshit" part, but it is for a very different reason than seems to be motivating his attitude. The NIH already influences where I "choose" to publish my work. As we've just seen in a prior discussion, PLoS ONE is not very high on the prestige ladder with peer reviewers...and therefore not very high with the NIH.

So quite obviously, my funder is telling me not to publish in that particular OA venue. They'd much prefer something of a lower IF that is better respected in the field, say, the journals that have longer track records, happen to sit on the top of the ISI "substance abuse" category or are associated with the more important academic societies. Or perhaps even the slightly more competitive rank of journals associated with academic societies of broader "brain" interest.

Even before we get to the Glamour level....the NIH funding system cares where I publish.

Therefore I am not entirely "free" to choose where I want to publish and it is not some sort of moral failing that I haven't jumped on the exclusive OA bandwagon.

@ianholmes @eperlste @dgmacarthur @caseybergman bullshit - there's no debate - there's people being selfish and people doing the right thing

uh-huh. I'm "selfish" because I want to keep my lab funded in this current skin-of-the-teeth funding environment? Sure. The old one-percenter-of-science monster rears it's increasingly ugly head on this one.

@ianholmes @eperlste @dgmacarthur @caseybergman and we have every right to shame people for failing to live up to ideals of field

What an ass. Sure, you have the right to shame people if you want. And we have the right to point out that you are being an asshole from your stance of incredible science privilege as a science one-percenter. Lecturing anyone who is not tenured, doesn't enjoy HHMI funding, isn't comfortably ensconced in a hard money position, isn't in a highly prestigious University or Institute, may not even have achieved her first professorial appointment yet about "selfishness" is being a colossal dickweed.

Well, you know how I feel about dickweedes.

I do like @mbeisen and I do think he is on the side of angels here*. I agree that all of us need to be challenged and I find his comments to be this, not an unbearable insult. Would it hurt to dip one toe in the PLoS ONE waters? Maybe we can try that out without it hurting us too badly. Can we preach his gospel? Sure, no problem. Can we ourselves speak of PLoS ONE papers on the CVs and Biosketches of the applications we are reviewing without being unjustifiably dismissive of how many notes Amadeus has included? No problem.

So let us try to get past his rhetoric, position of privilege and stop with the tone trolling. Let's just use his frothing about OA to examine our own situations and see where we can help the cause without it putting our labs out of business.

__
*ETA: meaning Open Access, not his attacks on Twitter

97 responses so far

  • Zen Faulkes says:

    I asked Michael Eisen to elaborate on his "i think the 'i should have to right to choose where to publish' argument is bullshit" in a blog post, because I hope there is more to his argument than fist in the tweet. For one, he commented "if you want freedom, use your own money" (https://twitter.com/mbeisen/status/293775292831510529).

    I do use my own money, so I guess I DO have the unfettered right to choose where to publish. I think. Anyone arguing researchers should NOT have autonomy in choosing where to publish probably needs at least a few paragraphs to convince academics, who value their autonomy highly.

  • drugmonkey says:

    There is a big difference between "should not" and "do not", Zen. My argument is a "do not" when it comes to completely unfettered and uninfluenced autonomy. As if people choose toll access journals intentionally over open just because they like the idea of nobody seeing their stuff. this is ridiculous and it is essentially what Eisen is asserting.

  • becca says:

    So what you're saying is- NIH should make a rule prohibiting all non-OA articles from being counted as progress in grant applications, and everything will be fixed.

  • zb says:

    "So what you're saying is- NIH should make a rule prohibiting all non-OA articles from being counted as progress in grant applications, and everything will be fixed."

    But, I think DM is also saying that they have an interest in not doing so, and that's why it hasn't happened. I think it's a "hasn't happened yet" though; last time around, wasn't one of the complaints that there simply weren't enough OA venues for publication? The NIH does have an interest in having other venues (i.e. the glamour mags) validate science for them (i.e. it's easier for the funders to join the bandwagon that's already been validated by someone else).

    As an agency, tough, I think they have less interest in differentiating among the different tiers of journals that are largely known only to insider practitioners, since the public is unaware of those differences. So, from NIH's point of view, their funding success depends on the public knowing about the value of the science that's done. Open access + press publicity can provide that public marketing, without impact factors, say, differentiating the different tier journals within biochemistry. I think that means they'll have a growing lack of interest in defending the old model. There are still the copyright lobbies, they may stop the OA progress, for a while, but eventually, it'll go forward.

  • drugmonkey says:

    press publicity follows the GlamourMags in large part zb. You are going to have to break that cozy relationship too....

  • GAATTC says:

    I'm fine with OA journals (just recently sent a paper to the PlosOne wannabe Biology Open), but have noticed grant reviewers don't like them. "Good productivity in specialty journals" was actually listed as a weakness in my last R01 summary statement. I don't think the reviewers read the titles of the papers. Rather, they look at where it is published and equate impact factor with significance of the work. I guess there is some merit to this approach, but I think it increases the likelihood that people are going to get the data, by any means necessary, to publish in higher tier journals (as DM talked about in another post regarding doping and science). So if I publish in OA journals, I have to accept the consequences. It is also important to consider the first author (be it grad student or post doc) when going the OA route because search committees also like impact factors. Despite all these potential negatives, I still like the OA model and would probably believe more of the data in those journals (if you are making stuff up, why not aim higher than OA?). But I certainly understand the need to publish in journals of higher IF. Has anyone else noticed that all journals are getting harder to publish in? My dump journal of 15 years ago is now almost beyond reach...

  • Spiny Norman says:

    If @mbeisen were the paragon of ethical consistency that he wants others to be, he would refuse @HHMI funding until HHMI Investigator positions and -- especially -- renewals are awarded solely on the basis of the PI's OA papers. C/N/S wouldn't count.

    I am serious about this.

    There is no single organization in the United States that does more to enforce and reinforce the perception that onmust publish in the three top journals than HHM. Not one of those journals is OA. No, PLoS Biology is not in that group, and neither is eLife -- and it won't be in the near future. I know several seasoned investigators who have over the last three years been warned in their HHMI reviews that they need to publish more papers in C/N/S, and that is precisely where the rubber meets the road.

    MBE may be in Berkeley, but until he resigns from -- or transforms -- HHMI, he is not this guy, raised voice and wagging finger notwithstanding.

  • Cynric says:

    What I personally love about PloS ONE is the fact that you explicitly cannot equate journal prestige with the "importance" of the work.

    Although I haven't looked at the bibliographic data, it seems logical that a journal with a stated policy of ignoring "impact" could only have an IF as high as 4.4 if a fraction of its papers have very high citation counts (to make up for the presumably large tail of zero citation papers). So, there is no way of knowing whether the work is dumped in PloS ONE because there's nowhere else for it, or because the PI actively likes OA and sends good work there. I'm also hopeful that the PlosONE case study will draw more attention to the fact that ALL journals (even CNS) have the same skewed distribution.

    We're having interesting debates in the UK at the moment about how our next research assessment exercise (now rebranded as "Research Excellence Framework") is going to deal with PloS ONE papers. No lazy IF shortcuts - the panel may actually have to read the papers!

  • Drugmonkey says:

    The median cite / Journal IF scatter plot suggests PLoS ONE may be heading for a drop in IF, no?

    http://t.co/ribHaKkw

  • [...] to a point I made about funding and open science, DrugMonkey explains how the real stumbling blocks to open access publishing are funding agencies (boldface [...]

  • miko says:

    Yes, the whole point of PLoS One was that the venue would not matter. That's been complicated by everyone's obsession over the position and velocity of its IF as an indicator of something about its function/mission. If you wonder what it indicates about a paper that it is in P1, in theory you are already doing it wrong.

    Yep: I am totally free to publish wherever I want, as long as I am also willing to completely decouple all my decision making from my career interests. Anyone who tells you that getting shortlisted/hired/granted/tenured is independent of bullshit perceptions about then venues where you've published is a fucking nut. (See also: "Anyone can be president" and "Exceptions that prove rules")

    However, I don't really see a strong connection with OA here. An OA mandate is right, but it will not change the fucked up scientific prestige/pedigree system the boomers built. There will still be C/N/S, HHMI, and the OA publishers trying to have high IF "prestige" venues along with the glams. Risk sacrificing my career to contribute to putting an end to #icanhazpdf while leaving every other odious part of the scientific enterprise intact? Tempting.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Wll spoken, Miko. That's the nub, ain't it.

  • zb says:

    "press publicity follows the GlamourMags in large part zb. You are going to have to break that cozy relationship too...."

    That will take longer to break -- but, I see little value to the differentiation among IF among the non-glamour rags.

    It seems that from the public's point of view, they're all "dump" journals. They aren't from reviewers points of view (hence the continued effect on grant making). NIH is somewhere between the two in motivators (i.e. between the public and the reviewers).

    I definitely see the day when they have no interest in supporting the non-open access journals with IF's that don't push them into the glamor range. And, the open access can help with the publicity (for example, when the local newspaper in Maui picks up an article about box jellyfish venom that was published in PLoS One).

    HHMI has negotiated 6 month embargoes with many major journals, including the glamor mags. I do find it interesting that with all their power and lip service to OA, that that's the best they've been able to do.

  • Dave says:

    I just think all these OA journals are having the opposite effect - i.e. they are just making the glam journals appear even more glamorous and desirable. And the really good OA journals (PLoS Genetics etc) are fucking glam journals anyway.

  • zb says:

    Also, "NPG's License to Publish encourages authors of original research articles to self-archive the accepted version of their manuscript in PubMed Central or other appropriate funding body's archive; their institution's repositories; and, if they wish, on their personal websites. In all cases, the manuscript can be made publicly accessible six months after publication. "

    Science's policy seems broader: "After publication, authors may post the accepted version of the paper on the author's personal Web site. "

    So the folks posting their NS papers aren't violating any rules (for Nature group, they have to wait 6 mo).

    HHMI's site is a good review of the evolving access policies at the major journals. They're feeling the OA fire at their feet and figuring out how to protect bits of their model (6 mo, in this case).

  • zb says:

    "And the really good OA journals (PLoS Genetics etc) are fucking glam journals anyway."

    That was a feature, not a bug, right? The goal was to explicitly undercut the non-OA glamor mags.

    The goal of PLoS One was to undercut the non-OA "dump" journals.

  • poke says:

    "press publicity follows the GlamourMags in large part zb. You are going to have to break that cozy relationship too...."

    I don't think this is true. Anecdotally, I've noticed for a long time that lots of news articles are based on work published in really obscure journals.

    But, for some data, here's a list of the journals that science stories currently in my google news feed derive from:

    Scientific Reports *
    Nature
    Cryosphere *
    International Journal of Paleopathology
    mBio *
    Nature Chemistry
    Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

    *open access

    So...yeah.

    Granted, this is just one day's sample, but as mentioned above, it's consistent with my experience in general.

  • Dave says:

    That was a feature, not a bug, right? The goal was to explicitly undercut the non-OA glamor mags.

    I thought the whole point of OA was to do away with the whole IF rubbish and just publish science.

  • WTFunds says:

    OA advocates are a funny bunch. Their hearts are in the right place - although not for some maligned public that can't get access to scholarly results (almost completely fabricated) - by wanting to accelerate science by sharing results more freely (literally!). But the requirement to vet science and judge an investigator's net worth in the scholarly economy is totally dependent on a system of meritocracy through publication. That meritocracy is built upon pages of single-word entitled journals. This has been this way for decades. Those at the top have the power to change the system - just tell those in positions to advance their peers that publishing in BigJournal is no longer necessary. But that is not happening. In fact, more people are rushing to BigJournal, raising it's operating costs and demand, and thus, the price. Cycle repeats; anger grows from rank and file.

    How oh how does the OA community plan to remedy the fact that advancement based on merit requires a system of recognition, which currently is the IF of publications? If OA is a must have, what will replacement system for the meritocracy will science replace it with? This has never been addressed to my knowledge. Yet with the cost of BigJournal rising due to demand, the calls for OA grow louder (well, really an author/taxpayer-pays model).

  • drugmonkey says:

    If OA is a must have, what will replacement system for the meritocracy will science replace it with?

    Post-publication review. Seriously, this is what they propose will replace the current prospective-evaluation scheme of Journal IF. Almetrics, web hits, comments online, etc.

    So they definitely have an answer. Whether it is a plausible argument is another matter.

  • Dave says:

    DM, when is the last time your saw significant "post-publication" discussion of an OA paper on the journals website? It's a nice idea, but doesn't seem to be playing out. I have seen a few articles where some people have asked the authors questions, which then go completely unanswered.

  • drugmonkey says:

    A: hardly ever.

    Yes, I think they are delusional.

  • Jonathan says:

    So, do the OA wackaloons just pretend this doesn't exist? http://publicaccess.nih.gov

  • DrugMonkey says:

    12 mo embargo is ridiculous

  • DrugMonkey says:

    And given print-pub delay, the 12 mo turns into 18 to 24 mo in reality. And I am looking at one journal right now that has a 16 mo backlog!

  • WTFunds says:

    DM - yeah, yelp.com for scholarly journals is not going to work. Maybe we can move to opentable.com for manuscript submissions. For most PIs, publication is the finish line - not a time to begin defending one's work from competitors in the comment section of a website. I think you're right to think that advocates of this approach are a bit pie in the sky/high off their gorde. Call me crazy, but I still think one of the best ways to ensure the veracity of science is to have a third party arbiter (BigJournal) arrange for the refereeing of manuscripts, throwing its own reputation (and profits) on the line by only not fucking it all up. I also think a user fee is the right system - those who want it, pay for it - rather than have it paid for by PIs (and thus taken from the actual "doing of science" pool of $$). Discrimination in subscriptions makes for the best use of scarce monies these days, and a user fee system promotes that.

    Don't mean to start an OA flame war, but that's my

  • WTFunds says:

    ...two pennies.

    Premature Submit-ation

  • bob says:

    @DM re: PLoS ONE future IF
    The point made in that editorial is worth keeping in mind: the median number of citations for all papers isn't necessarily a good predictor of impact factor when the publication rate has increased rapidly in the last year. There are a lot of new papers in that median calculation that haven't yet had much chance to be cited and this is disproportionate for a journal like PLoS ONE whose publishing volume is still rapidly increasing.

  • drugmonkey says:

    there is also the fact that PL0s ONE is fighting with one hand behind its back because it doesn't give itself extra cushion on the actual availability to end of ISI tracking interval by maintaining a "pre publication" queue of several months duration.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    HFS, DM. Trixy publishers...

  • Spiny Norman says:

    WTFunds wrote: "Their hearts are in the right place - although not for some maligned public that can't get access to scholarly results (almost completely fabricated) ..."

    Dude, I am not an OA wackaloon, but that is TOTAL and COMPLETE BULLSHIT.

    I have spent a good chunk of the last few days reading medical articles to try to help a relative through a side effect of cancer therapy. I am lucky because I happen to have a faculty position in a med school so I have access.

    The result of my access? The relative in question will probably avoid a therapeutic regimen that has essentially no evidence of efficacy, carries considerable risks, and which would (since the relative in question is on Medicare) cost taxpayers about $70,000.

    I know a considerable number of highly-educated people who have wanted access to the medical lit when they or relatives were dealing with various medical problems. At $20 or more for a PDF reprint this is a BIG problem. Access to medical and other scientific literature paid for by tax dollars should NOT be confined to the small fraction of the population with access through a U. or deep pockets.

    The federal government (and private charitable trusts) should be STRONGLY incentivizing the open dissemination of these research products. As NIH is already doing to some extent....

  • WTFunds says:

    Norm - I'm glad your relative had you looking up good lit. But why is it that when you walk about OA, every OA advocate has some relative/friend/electrician/dogsitter that had a medical condition, was thwarted by some nefarious paywalls, tragically lost their pursuit of scientific truth, only to be saved by PI-cousin at Big U?? I honestly don't want to diminish the value of information that you sough out for your relative, but WHY THE FUCK was their provider even prescribing that course of action if an investigator in a non-germane field can do a general lit search and advise otherwise? Is something amiss in the CME world. How did this practitioner not come to the same conclusion as you? Medicare spends a lot of money per year trying to weed out fraud and abuse...was this a case in your mind? Is it a lag in reimbursement that is still allowing for antiquated treatments? A lack of a second opinion? Bad doc?

    The point is that if any layperson can do a lit search and come to a different treatment course - barring that they can understand or don't misinterpret the literature - then there is a gross failure of continuing education. It's a provider's job to know what's in the lit, not the patient's. I don't diagnose my engine before bringing it to the mechanic, and if I did, I sure as shit would want the "diagnostics charge" waived. Are we to do the same with docs? "I browsed JAMA and I think I have _____ and we should do ______....don't forget to tell Medicare that's 25% off."

    On your last point, the feds pay for research through the grant mechanism - a funding mechanism that is designed to encourage/promote an activity that seemingly wouldn't take place without public funding that has been deemed to have some social value. They (taxpayers) are not procuring anything. That is done through the contract mechanism. Taxpayers have no more a right to the literary results of private scientific publications as they do to the products created from scientific research, or the university classroom or library that was paid for with a State grant/bond, or your salary if paid for by the taxpayers. This line of reasoning is simply populistic, and opportunistic based on an individual's emotive misinterpretation that literature behind a paywall - a paywall that funds pee review (particularly in cases of society rags from non-profits) - is somehow concealed truth that will cure their ills. Don't do that. That is not the purpose of medical lit - to give patients direction on their course of action. Don't tell them that.

    If folks can find a free way to publish and ensure veracity....great! I could care less where it comes from. It would also save money and they only victims of perfectly natural cyclical unemployment would be the publishing execs. Boo hoo. But this debate is being hijacked for all the wrong reasons, and it's not necessarily the publishing 1%ers.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It's a provider's job to know what's in the lit, not the patient's.

    You are seriously deluded about what is going on with medical care these days. and no, it is not the fault of the doctors, they just can't keep up given the constraint they have on them and the pay structures. families and patients (and their friends and neighbors) can spend hours and hours researching and synthesizing and coming up with ideas. hours that no reasonable person could expect any physician to spend on one case.

    so why not LET the crowd do some investigating of the literature?

  • bill says:

    >>If OA is a must have, what will replacement system for the meritocracy
    >>will science replace it with?

    >Post-publication review. Seriously, this is what they propose will replace
    >the current prospective-evaluation scheme of Journal IF. Almetrics, web
    >hits, comments online, etc.

    Are you both high? These are two separate questions: OA will not in and of itself do anything at all to the "meritocracy", which isn't anything of the kind, of the Impact Factor; nor will it have any inescapable effect on peer review. Both pre-publication peer review and the worship of a mathematically illiterate, proprietary, for-profit metric (IF) can continue unabated and unchanged as Open Access expands, even if OA takes over completely.

    The claim about alternative metrics is that they will be available alongside the IF in a 100% OA system, so we'll be able to do the experiment. There's also talk of experimenting with alternative peer review methods, but some of those experiments have been underway at subscription journals (EMBO J) for years and have nothing to do with OA.

    OA is not about reforming the way we assess scientists for career advancement, nor is it about reforming the way we assess papers for publication. It's about providing access to research outcomes to the people who paid for them -- I mean the funders, who want both public access per Spiny above, and access to all researchers in order to maximize uptake and use of the research. (It's also, depending on how much Kool Aid you've drunk, about enabling text- and data-mining efforts that might increase the efficiency with which we can process all the information we're producing, and that we're currently giving to for-profit companies to lock up in proprietary silos.)

    Even if it didn't save money relative to the subscription system, OA would be a good idea per the above goals. But it WILL save money -- why else are the big publishing companies fighting it tooth and nail? Their 40% profit margins are going to evaporate when journals compete as economic substitutes (OA) not economic complements (subscription model).

  • WTFunds says:

    DM - I disagree. It is the provider's job to know their field of medicine. It's particularly why specialists are paid a premium. If not, we need to seriously revise how much we're paying docs in this country when complex medical issues are being prescribed courses of action by the patient.

  • WTFunds says:

    bill - fair enough about the metrics, and if they are successful, great. But journals, as per the original post, DO carry weight when assessing future applications. The problem isn't finding a proper substitute as so much as it is moving it there seamlessly - which is almost impossible.

    I will continue to disagree about the public's right to publicly funded research. Not a popular stance, but the correct one based on jurisprudence. As I stated above, the public has no more a right to research from journals that was funded by NIH as they do to the products/treatments/etc created from NIH seed funding. There are a great many things in this country where public and private dollars are conflated beyond the point of determining ownership. This is why the grant mechanism was created - to transfer that right from the government to the recipient. Again, will you let the public sit in on your lectures for free, since they have either wholly or partially paid for almost everything in the university structure?

  • bill says:

    But journals, as per the original post, DO carry weight when assessing future applications. The problem isn't finding a proper substitute as so much as it is moving it there seamlessly - which is almost impossible.

    Nope, it's trivial.

    If NIH, HHMI, Wellcome, NH&MRC -- a majority of funders -- got together and demanded that anything they fund be published OA, and none of this embargo bullshit, there would be a brief period of chaos and FUD and maybe even a few merit-free lawsuits, and then the publishing companies, being pragmatic businesses, would settle the fuck down and either divest themselves of their STEM arms or switch to OA. Done, finished, settled.

    Now you have an ecosystem of OA journals, and nothing else has changed. There may not be quite as many as there were before the OApocalypse, but there will still be plenty of diversity. Hiring and tenure committees are free to choose which of them confer automatic Winner status on those who publish there, just as they are now.

    I will continue to disagree about the public's right to publicly funded research. Not a popular stance, but the correct one based on jurisprudence. As I stated above, the public has no more a right to research from journals that was funded by NIH as they do to the products/treatments/etc created from NIH seed funding.

    You might be a lawyer but you're clearly not an economist -- or a five-year-old, who would know that "if I have an apple and I give you an apple, I no longer have an apple; but if I have information and I give it to you, now we both have it".

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "It's a provider's job to know what's in the lit, not the patient's."

    HAHAHAHA.

    What I have discovered in dealing with multiple serious health care problems with my relatives over the last couple of years is that the average clinician does NOT know what is in the lit, and particularly does NOT know what is in the evidence-based medicine lit.

    Small effect measures are commonly believed to be large, and there is strong evidence that initial clinical studies almost always show the largest effects, with diminishing efficacy in subsequent studies. Because most clinicians are -- let's be blunt -- statistically illiterate, most of them don't know how to read a meta-analysis. Moreover, problems are too often analyzed in isolation, without consideration of the effects that various therapeutic options will have on co-morbitidities. I have seen two dramatic cases of this with relatives in the last six months.

    Finally, MANY therapeutic modalities remain still in common use for many years after they have been shown to be not only useless but actively harmful. Physicians not only have the pavlovian incentive of pay-by-procedure, but the intellectual investment of learning a therapeutic approach, and often the emotional investment of having done something for decades. No one who got into medicine to help people wants to think that what they've been doing to their patients is ineffectual or harmful!

    Some of the most stunning examples of this can be seen in surgery of the lower back.

    In the cases that I've dealt with, the clinicians in question were highly respected within their local communities. In both cases, they had an incorrect understanding of the relevant case literature in their own fields.

    My doctor friends are not at all shocked when I have this conversation with them. The world of medicine as you imagine it is not the world of medicine as it exists.

    To take another, less personal example, throughout the HIV epidemic doctors were frequently shocked that a substantial subset of their patients knew more about their disease and the front-lnie treatments than the doctors did.

    Bottom line: the public has ALREADY PAID for much of this work. It is unconscionable that the results should be then deposited behind paywalls operated for private gain at obscene profit margins.

  • Physician Scientist says:

    Spiny Norman-
    You are going to bad doctors. Perhaps those who do 80% research, 20% clinical or those who are just lazy. This is why I gave up clinical medicine - I couldn't do both.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "I don't diagnose my engine before bringing it to the mechanic, and if I did, I sure as shit would want the "diagnostics charge" waived. Are we to do the same with docs? "I browsed JAMA and I think I have _____ and we should do ______....don't forget to tell Medicare that's 25% off."

    Well, that's one reason I drive an old car. Back when I had more time on my hands, I did many of my own car repairs. I often DO know how to diagnose the jalopy.

    You may be shocked to learn that many mechanics are adept at diagnosing problems that do not exist, then charging their customers for unneeded repair work.

  • WTFunds says:

    "You might be a lawyer but you're clearly not an economist -- or a five-year-old, who would know that "if I have an apple and I give you an apple, I no longer have an apple; but if I have information and I give it to you, now we both have it"."

    Personal insults, particularly when I've done nothing but offer a differing opinion, are a real sign of....shitheadedness. But since you mention information, should we (the public) compel you to teach for free, given your salary/training was paid for/subsidized, in whole or in part, by the taxpayers? That's a lot of info you're holding back bubby. I'll wait for an answer.

    The whole thing is hilarious: researchers compete fiercely for research dollars; peer reviewers weed out bad apps/bad PIs based partially on publishing history; science is funded; science is finished; results need to be verified; PI approaches most prestigious journal in his/her field; success!; get more grants. Capitalists are not idiots. If capital sees a system where consumers (PIs) voluntarily seek out the highest priced option to get more money and advance their career, they'll oblige. But for PIs to KEEP GOING BACK TO THEM, and then blame them, is ludicrous. Compete organically - not through force of law and tortured/opportunistic reasoning. You're also not an economist if you think information is free. Like apples, it costs something and has value - both of which are very relevant to this debate.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    PS -- my relatives are going to the best doctors in their communities, and have *mostly* received stellar care there. What you are hearing about here are the exceptions, not the rule.

    But the exceptions are significant and problematic, and these are the sorts of folks who need a lot of medical care. They have cognitive or communications deficits related to their medical conditions and are not able to be Smart Shoppers or to be overly critical about the recommendations that they receive. Moreover, they have mobility issues that prevent them from obtaining regular care outside of a reasonably small geographic radius.

    In addition, I stand by my assertion that most working physicians (like most research biologists, by the way) lack substantial statistical training. I teach at a highly regarded medical school and was trained at two others. I know what is in the curriculum at these schools, I know what the requirements for pre-meds are prior to admission, and I've seen the response rate when a laboratory full of med students is asked to use a chi-square test in a lab exercise.

  • zb says:

    "I have spent a good chunk of the last few days reading medical articles to try to help a relative through a side effect of cancer therapy. I am lucky because I happen to have a faculty position in a med school so I have access. "

    And I just read the story of a family that was able to appeal a decision to deny a treatment because they had access to scientific literature (that they sent along with their appeal). Yes, cutting edge treatment, and yes, the insurance company had a financial interest in not knowing about it.

    Physicians can be competant and insurance companies can even be fair, but they simply have neither the ability nor time to treat the world as though there was only one patient. When the patient is your friend, husband, child, you do only have one patient.

    (Also, taxpayers paid for the majority of the work already, if its NIH funded).

  • zb says:

    PS: My story was not an OA site, but just a family whose health odyssey I've been following.

  • WTFunds says:

    Norm - haha, I do a lot of work on the cars myself, and have paid many times over for my old mechanic's vacations based on phantom repairs.

    I'm all for more information for patients, I just have a distaste for the way this entire debate has gone down by the supposed morally superior crowd. No one is forcing the use of Big Journal, except.....us. We can stop it - organically. Not through the force of law under an argument that's logically bankrupt, but just by moving our peers in that direction. It's hard bc some folks have invested careers in raising their pub stats. But it can be done - we're our own worst enemy. Again, the public pays for lots of things - why should this be made free? Because of the emotional connection to health outcomes? Compelling, but shouldn't the actual CARE be free as well for docs that at some point in their career received federal/taxpayer assistance (loan repayment, Pell Grant, etc.). Shouldn't a professor's knowledge that has been subsidized by the taxpayers through student grants, etc and from direct payments towards the university structure/salaries?

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "Personal insults, particularly when I've done nothing but offer a differing opinion, are a real sign of....shitheadedness."

    I didn't insult you. I did say that something you said was total bullshit. That was a criticism of an idea -- well, two ideas: (1) that the public would not benefit from broader access to the results of publicly-funded research; and (2) that reading (or misreading) of the medical literature should be left to the professionals.

    In my view both notions were not merely wrong, but bullshit. And I said why I thought that.

    "But since you mention information, should we (the public) compel you to teach for free, given your salary/training was paid for/subsidized, in whole or in part, by the taxpayers? That's a lot of info you're holding back bubby. I'll wait for an answer."

    Actually, I totally approve of the opening up of educational content, and I DO believe that we as a nation would be far better off if higher education were subsidized and effectively free to students -- as it is in most civilized nations.

    If you work as an engineer for IBM or if you work as a scientist directly employed by the federal government, you do not generally own your IP. I see little reason why it should be different for academic scientists, particularly those whose work is taxpayer-funded.

  • zb says:

    "(Also, taxpayers paid for the majority of the work already, if its NIH funded)."

    And, not because of training, or equipment, but because the work that was done was actually funded by the taxpayer, the doing of the experiments, the analysis of the data, and the writing of the paper, i.e. the creation of the intellectual property. It's perfectly reasonable for taxpayers to demand access to the work as a matter of law, and not "organically" if scientists chose to share it with taxpayers.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "Compelling, but shouldn't the actual CARE be free as well for docs that at some point in their career received federal/taxpayer assistance (loan repayment, Pell Grant, etc.). Shouldn't a professor's knowledge that has been subsidized by the taxpayers through student grants, etc and from direct payments towards the university structure/salaries?"

    The devil's in the details. But on principle, I'd say yes to both. And I would add that the education of essentially all physicians in the US is already pretty heavily subsidized by the federal government.

  • WTFunds says:

    I just don't get these replies that education, health care, etc should be "free." Are you saying you're willing to work for nothing? Course not. You're saying the taxpayers should continue to pay your current wage, and that the students/patients should have no bill? Talk about bullshit. That's not free.

    Norm - agree: much of our health care professionals are subsidized at some point. But we encouraged that through grants - we don't own those folks and they don't owe us free care. Scientists don't owe us free inventions or treatments either.

    Again, I keep getting folks implying that I'm anti-free content - I'm not. I'm just saying that you can't demand one certain product be made free, while ignoring your own salary/inventions/royalties. If this is an argument about giving taxpayers greater access to EVERYTHING they fund, then let's talk about that merit and who will pay (the rich, with their fir share?). But let's not make this an argument about journals and scholarly articles bc they're special and could heal people (while ignoring your own salary and clinical revenue).

  • WTFunds says:

    "It's perfectly reasonable for taxpayers to demand access to the work as a matter of law, and not "organically" if scientists chose to share it with taxpayers."

    No, it's not. It's also not right for scientists to demand that a third party publisher release their content, yet turn around and sell that IP to the highest bidder for product development and royalty sharing. The argument is bullshit as Norm says. The scientific research system is built for scientists, by scientists. If they want a new system to review a scientists productivity, create it. Don't continue to contract with a third party to do so, then blame that third party when you think their profits are excessive. YOU ARE THE MARKET. No invisible hand bullshit - change it yourself.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "I just don't get these replies that education, health care, etc should be "free." Are you saying you're willing to work for nothing? Course not. You're saying the taxpayers should continue to pay your current wage, and that the students/patients should have no bill? Talk about bullshit. That's not free."

    You are suggesting that I am saying things that I did not say.

    Here is what I wrote:

    "I DO believe that we as a nation would be far better off if higher education were subsidized and effectively free to students -- as it is in most civilized nations."

    If you cannot tell the difference between I wrote, and your failed attempt at summary, you have a reading comprehension deficit.

  • zb says:

    Yes, NIH can change it, by not funding scientists who choose not to make the work they produce with taxpayer supported funds available to the public, It's a perfectly reasonable condition.

  • WTFunds says:

    Norm - please do: clarify what you mean. There's only a few ways this works, unless you really are willing to work for free. Again, where does the government get the money to ensure that "higher education were subsidized and essentially free"? Is it free because folks have already paid for it through taxes? Why do you feel everyone should pay for higher ed out of their paychecks when only some folks will go, even if it is free? My read is just fine, it's just the logic I'm having trouble with.

  • zb says:

    Oh, and I don't think the government has leverage when they're not funding the work.

  • bill says:

    If you think that was an insult, douchebag, you need to get out more. I'm not wasting more of my time on you.

  • WTFunds says:

    zb - you realize that you're asking journals to still do what the do, just for free. Not a sustainable biz model.

  • zb says:

    Well, we pay for higher education because we think society benefits generally from the education of the individuals who pursue degrees, in addition to the benefits that accrue to them individually. There's an OECD contest on data visualization right now, trying to graphically represent that data, the return on investment in education.

    http://www.visualizing.org/full-screen/44104

    The graphic isn't working for me, but the concept does.

  • WTFunds says:

    OK Bill, we need less fucking retards in here that talk out of their ass. Move the fuck on.

  • zb says:

    All the journals do is arrange the reviewers, some minor editing and formatting and maintain the website,. All of that can easily be paid for with fixed fees for the service. Since subscription payments for many of these journals are already subsidized by the same entities that produce the work (I.e universities and granting agencies) it's a completely feasible model to shift the resources to pay those fixed fees, instead of paying subscription fees) (another point of NIH leverage, to shift overhead calculations that go into paying subscriptions to paying the limited costs of publication)

  • WTFunds says:

    zb - no one is saying that funding valuable activities through public monies is not valuable. But when you pursue a third party contract to fulfill a role for you (journals) and then bitch when the demand for a few choice journals gets to high bc of demand, you're out of your mind - ESPECIALLY when you WANT to be in those journals. Just move to another journal and encourage/demand your colleagues to. PUT DOWN THE BIGJOURNAL CRACK PIPE and only publish in OA journals. Simple. Then you don't have to cop-out by saying "but I still want to get paid to teach and develop my products....."

  • zb says:

    I agree that as a matter of law, NIH has not required public access as a condition of funding in the past, and the public funding doesn't make those backlist automatically available. They do now, albeit with compromise of. 12 month embargo. Clearly, the precedent of requiring public access at 12 months shows that public access could be required at other time delays. It's a political question now, to make that access faster.

  • WTFunds says:

    zb - of course there's a cost to journal publication - most journals are run by non-profits operating at cost. You can log on to any 501(c)3 and get their journal costs in their annual report. The 40%(!) profit margin journals that some folks cite above are rare and the most in-demand journals. Avoid these! But to characterize that figure as the norm is simply misleading and disingenuous. So if most journals operate at cost, perform a valuable service that PIs want, and are paid for with taxpayer funds already via the Library's budget, why not just tell the libraries that they have to open their doors to everything in the library. But they don't. They horde access as well to all their educational material, keeping it behind a tuition wall. Don't you agree that the public would benefit from free access to a university education if university's would just open access to their classes, which are funded mainly by the taxpayers? How is this not the same argument? I suspect you'll begin to sympathize with the publisher, who don't receive taxpayer funding to do their services, if you start to see the pitfalls (there are many).

  • bill says:

    What's this "we", gobshite? It ain't your blog. You talk nonsense, duck and weave instead of arguing in good faith, and then get all pissy. I didn't say I was going anywhere, just that I wasn't going to waste more time on you.

    Which resolution I just broke, of course, but your buttons are so easy to push that I just can't help myself. You're here for dick-measuring instead of figuring interesting things out, so I'm treating you like the clown you are -- all you're good for is brief entertainment, and maybe frightening some children.

  • WTFunds says:

    Do us all a favor and move the fuck on like you promised you would. You haven't answered any questions, obviously bc you're full of shit. Don't reply. Don't - you promised!

  • Spiny Norman says:

    WTFunds: I am willing to have a conversation with you. I am not willing to teach you remedial reading.

  • WTFunds says:

    Norm - You're unable to answer simple questions about your original statement. There's no miscomprehension - just asking you to explain who exactly will pay for the subsidized education you speak of.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    You're being willfully obtuse, WTFunds. I'm in no mood to try to converse under those circumstances.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    "Most"? Srsly? By the time we get done with Elsevier, Wiley, NPG et cetera I'm having trouble seeing where there is even enough paper in the world to have enough journals to constitute "most" of them being nonprofit.

  • WTFunds says:

    Norm - how can you even claim that? I have specific questions right above. You have dodgy answers. In the text-speak of DM - srsly?

  • neuromusic says:

    regardless of the fraction of journals which are NPOs, let us not forget that "nonprofit" does *not* mean "operates at cost". rather, it simply means that the equity in the company is not owned by shareholders.

    I can't imagine the nonprofit AAAS voluntarily moving to a less profitable "at cost" OA model for Science that would cut into their ability to subsidize the rest of the organization and its science advocacy mission.

  • Actually, WTFunds, the 40% profit margin people cite is for Elsevier, by far the largest player in the publishing industry, accounting for ~25% of the industry. And while they do publish some high end journals, these are less profitable than the bulk of their business which comes from largely middle and low tier operations.

  • Zen Faulkes says:

    A related article has just been released in The Guardian:

    "Those who publish research behind paywalls are victims not perpetrators"

    Tagline: Labelling scientists who publish in traditional journals as 'immoral' only hinders the cause of open access publishing

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2013/jan/23/open-access-publish-paywalls-victims-perpetrators

  • WTFunds says:

    Yes - nonprofit does not mean at cost, but it means the Board decides how much subscription carnage it wants to impose on its own membership, whom makes up the preponderance of the subscribers.

    Michael - you are correct, Els is the biggest player and their profit margin for the year you cite was large. Am I correct that it is not always that large in other years? I say this admitting that I'd like to see $0 profit from publishing if we can get there via OA. My disagreement is using the force of law to get us there, rather than no longer tying academic advancement to publication in the Chosen Few Rags.

  • WTFunds says:

    Zen - I agree with that article wholeheartedly.

  • qaz says:

    So, OK, I have a practical question. Let's assume that I do believe in OA (which I do, wholeheartedly), and I also know that journal caliber is a oft-used stand-in for paper quality (whether I like it or not). Let's say I have a potential Science/Nature paper. What OA journal should I send it to that is of equivalent influence? How about PNAS, Neuron, or NatNsci? In my field, these journals hold sway over my and my students' lives.

    There's no reason that there can't be an OA Science equivalent. What is it?

  • Spiny Norman says:

    qaz: So far as I am concerned there are three options, in order of decreasing preference:

    1. http://www.elifesciences.org/
    2. PNAS with OA option
    3. PLoS Biology

  • AA says:

    SN: No offense, but how do you come up with that ranking? N/S is definitely >> PNAS. ELife was just realized this year, with no track record whatsoever. PLoS Biology seems decent, but at most I would give it = PNAS.

    There is simply no OA equivalent of N/S... and if your work is good enough for N/S and you choose not to submit there, then I have nothing to say.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    @AA: if your work is good enough for N/S, it will be recognized if published in *any* highly visible venue. PNAS definitely counts. And if I didn't hate on Elsevier so severely I'd choose Cell (and have done) over any of 'em, any day of the week.

    The too-short, 736-figures-in-supplementary, can't-cite-most-of -the-relevant-lit format of S/N is absolutely corrosive and harmful to the scientific enterprise.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    ...to add, the "letter" format made sense when a letter represented a relatively simple observation or idea. In this era where a "full story" drawing on multiple lines of evidence is usually required for a "letter" format article, the compression and distortion of scientific narrative is completely fucking destructive.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    ...The best papers published in my own sub-field over the last five years have been in PNAS, NSMB, JCB, and JBC. I can think of only one truly important paper that was published in Nature. That one almost didn't make it -- it was accepted only when a Nature Editor learned that a competing (and less worthy) paper from a BSD investigator was already in press at Cell. I know this because I personally witnessed the conversations between the Nature editor and both of the PI's in question at a meeting.

    This way of doing business is, again, antithetical to the way science should proceed.

    The other C/N/S papers in my sub-field were generally from BSD PI's. They were mostly good work but not better (or, for that matter, more novel) than what was being published in high-end specialist journals -- and often worse.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Funny SN, just the sort of story the Nature editors deny ever happens. Funny, that.

  • bill says:

    Spiny: also, what is this "good enough for N/S" shit anyway? Their track record of picking "the best" science is abysmal; witness their ever-burgeoning retraction list, or the many dissections of impact factor uselessness.

    What the Glam Mags are good at, brilliant in fact, is propaganda -- they've got a solid majority of scientists believing that they have some Secret Sauce that makes them the rightful arbiters of what constitutes good or worthwhile science. If you tried to make a claim to those same scientists in their own fields, on the basis of a quantity and quality of evidence similar to that which supports the Glam Mags' claims, they'd laugh you out of the room. Mind-boggling.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Fuckin' A., Bill. Couldn't agree more. And as I said upthread the NUMBER ONE driver of this attitude is the HHMI hierarchy. You want to fix this aspect of the system, you are going to have to change HHMI.

  • bill says:

    Funny, that.

    Wink wink nudge nudge know wot I mean? Eh eh?

    It doesn't take much effort to imagine the same plummy chummies making sure they keep "the wrong sort" out of their little club, does it?

  • bill says:

    Spiny -- I usually blame the NIH for the persistence of the "journal hierarchy" problem. HHMI, in my mind, is a separate clique of BSDs but not big enough to make a real impact. There are only 330 HHMI Investigators in the whole US... though I guess they do have disproportionate power and influence.

    I wonder how many HHMI BSD's think like Mike Eisen, and whether there's any chance of them staging a coup...?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    No, no bill.... It is only about the highest possible quality of the most important science!

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Oh, HHMI is *highly* enriched in plummy chummies bill. Count on it.

  • miko says:

    I think most scientists have become reflexively good at compartmentalizing their thinking on this, people being people and institutions being institutions.

    I don't know anyone who doesn't know that publishing in C/N/S has nothing to do with science and everything to do with gamesmanship. As this is a blog that is in large part about grant gamesmanship (which to me is no different) I'm not sure why people find this so particularly offensive.

    There are so many things to hate about the scientific enterprise this vampire generation has built, one struggles to find the time between stealing office supplies and accepting papers in one's P1 editorial queue.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Miko, we had a run-in a few months ago -- I think we were probably just talking past one another as happens on the web. But you crack me the hell up, in the best possible way. Please, continue.

  • miko says:

    Likewise, SN. I don't know what all that was about. In fact, just the other day as I was calling for you presence on Twitter, which is a different Internet but with mostly the same people.

  • bill says:

    Oh. Me = dum. I just realized miko is rxnm. I always said miko should get his/her own blog!

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Why does one "call for a presence" on Tweeter?

  • Spiny Norman says:

    I don't do seances.

  • namnezia says:

    Never heard of eLifeSciences. But it definitely doesn't seem preferable to S/N/C/PNAS.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    HHMI, Burroughs-Wellcome, and Max Planck Institute are making a BIG investment to see that it does play in that league, namenzia. They are paying editors and referees nontrivial money for fast turnaround. I saw Randy Schekman, the Editor-in-Cheif, asked what the business plan is. His answer: for the first several years, to lose money. Scheckman is outgoing Editor of PNAS. He knows what he is doing and appears totally committed to the project.

  • Eli Rabett says:

    You appear to have missed this and this

    The latter has the amusing statement

    With this Notice, NIH informs grantees that in Spring, 2013, at the earliest, NIH will delay processing of non-competing continuation grant awards if publications arising from that award are not in compliance with the NIH public access policy. The award will not be processed until recipients have demonstrated compliance.

    Enjoy:)

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