Monday, 8 October 2012

Open-access science: be careful what you wish for

A very quick post tonight, but I've had an article published in The Conversation titled Open-access science: be careful what you wish for.

This is a word of caution on the push to make all science, bother the publications and data paid for with public money, available to all.

To cut a long story short, I fully support this move. I would love my science to be read by all (well, at least those who are interested :).

The caution is, however, that doing this costs. The current funding model is a bit busted; scientists need to publish in established journals, as articles that do not appear in the "highest impact journals" are not considered as important.

But the journals are owned by big publishing houses, and so libraries need to pay for access to the papers, often to see the science generated by their own researchers. It's a bit of a complex mess.

Anyway, my caution is that while the funding for open source science has to come from somewhere, it is not good to raid existing science budgets, when those funds could be used to support more science and innovation.

Raid existing budgets? Surely you think this is not possible, but check out what's recently happened in the UK. While I support the move to open source, I'd rather see money being spent on science being done, and we think of clever ways of making it accessible to all!

4 comments:

  1. I still don't understand why we need *any* journals. I hardly ever use actual journals to read papers. The authors put them online themselves and then I download it. This hardly costs anything.

    Surely there's a way to have peers assess each other's work without the need to waste resources on "journals" that aren't needed.

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    2. This only works because almost all papers on arXiv and so on are actually submitted to real journals. Take that away, and arXiv would have much lower quality.

      There is a huge discussion on this at Peter Coles's blog .

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  2. I agree, but there is a catch 22 - papers must have impact, and impact is measured but citations, and you are more likely to get citations (statistically) in a higher impact-factor journal. This is only get more important as governments will measure impact to justify the allocation of public funds.

    We have to completely change the way we think of publishing and assessing impact, and this is going to cost.

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