Research Works Act, ctd.

February 3, 2012 – 12:54 pm

There has been some interesting development in the case of the Research Works Act. Some grassroots activism has now forced Elsevier to respond to the criticisms of scientists:

A protest against Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific journal publisher, is rapidly gaining momentum since it began as an irate blog post at the end of January. By Tuesday evening, about 2,400 scholars had put their names to an online pledge not to publish or do any editorial work for the company’s journals, including refereeing papers.

Elsevier did provide a little bit more information on what they see as their role in adding value to scientific research:

“What publishers charge for is the distribution system. We identify emerging areas of research and support them by establishing journals. We pay editors who build a distinguished brand that is set apart from 27,000 other journals. We identify peer reviewers. And we invest a lot in infrastructure, the tags and metadata attached to each article that makes it discoverable by other researchers through search engines, and that links papers together through citations and subject matter. All of that has changed the way research is done today and makes it more efficient. That’s the added value that we bring.”

Judge for yourself whether you are convinced. Conspicuously missing from their comments was any indication they would retract support for the Research Works Act. There was also this:

I’m not sure why we are the focus of this boycott, but I’m very concerned about one dissatisfied scientist, and I’m concerned about 2,000.

Tough question! Here’s a hint.

  1. One Response to “Research Works Act, ctd.”

  2. There are moments when I want to just upload my manuscripts on my web site (assuming that I have a web site). It wouldn’t be peer reviewed, but I figure if someone is interested in my work, then it is part of their job to also scrutinize it. The readers may comment on it openly on the posted site, and eventually it would be like it was peer reviewed–as its pluses and minuses are documented in the comments. I know not everyone is or willing to be that open and honest because of pride, etc., which is probably why this publisher route prevails.

    I never understood why we pay so much for someone else to distribute our research when we can do it ourselves (sort of like how music is done today). Some artists may opt to go through big studios, but many are now just doing it on their own via MySpace, YouTube, what not. A service like Apple’s iTunes can help with the distribution, but share the “profit” with the content provider. We pay a butt load to submit and our research to be peer-reviewed and then edited (usually the editor or assistant editor never really checks for writing quality), then some of us have to pay again to view our own work on the publisher’s site.

    My tax money pays for my own research and for it to be public. Can’t really do that if there is a giant pay wall. Well, if I paid so much to publish through these publishers, they should make the article free for readers. For them to charge both way doesn’t seem proper, unless they were promoting our work like book publishers do for their content providers–book signing etc. I want!

    I haven’t really thought through my opinion but that’s my ramble on the publisher side of things, so far.

    About the RWA…that’s another ramble, ramble, ramble… (I’ve watched too much South Park, lately)

    By Brian on Feb 3, 2012

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