The House of Cards: on meeting Randy Schekman

A reflection upon Culturico’s interview with Professor Randy Schekman about the growing open-access movement in the biological sciences, and what it means for the future of scientific publishing.

 

On Friday, 5thApril 2019, I had the unexpected honour of conducting a long-distance video interview with Nobel Prize winner in Physiology and Medicine Professor Randy Schekman. This interview is carried out in conjunction with Federico Germani’s in-depth Culturico article on open-access science publishing, and it provides valuable insight into the opinions of one of the open-access movement’s most ardent disciples….”

Open Statement: Why UC terminated journal negotiations with Elsevier

“The University of California has taken a firm stand on both open access to publicly funded research and fiscal responsibility by deciding not to renew its journal subscriptions with Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific publisher. Here’s why:

Elsevier’s proposal….

The UC proposal….”

The University of California and Elsevier: An Interview with Jeff MacKie-Mason – The Scholarly Kitchen

At the end of February, the University of California (UC) system announced that it had ended a long period of negotiations with Elsevier. Those negotiations had been undertaken as the system’s collective agreement for access to Elsevier’s complete list of scholarly journals (a.k.a. the “Big Deal”) was coming to an end, an inflection point at which UC hoped to create a completely new kind of agreement with the publisher. The close of those negotiations leaves UC without a deal, though not yet — as we shall see below — without access. Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Professor of Information and Economics at UC Berkeley, graciously agreed to answer a few questions for Scholarly Kitchen readers about the background of UC’s decision and its plans and expectations going forward….”

At MIT anthropologists plan a model for Open Access

“Publishers, librarians, research funders, and leaders from across the field of anthropology — including journal editors and representatives of the major Anglophone anthropological societies of both Europe and North America — gathered at MIT on April 24, 2019 for an invitational workshop focused on a sea change for everyone who attended: moving the discipline’s journals to an Open-Access (OA) model.

 
Currently, the expense of academic publishing creates significant barriers to the broad dissemination of scholarly findings. The goal of the workshop was to consider a new model for providing open access to journal publications in a way that could transform both anthropology and a full range of academic disciplines….”

At MIT anthropologists plan a model for Open Access

“Publishers, librarians, research funders, and leaders from across the field of anthropology — including journal editors and representatives of the major Anglophone anthropological societies of both Europe and North America — gathered at MIT on April 24, 2019 for an invitational workshop focused on a sea change for everyone who attended: moving the discipline’s journals to an Open-Access (OA) model.

 
Currently, the expense of academic publishing creates significant barriers to the broad dissemination of scholarly findings. The goal of the workshop was to consider a new model for providing open access to journal publications in a way that could transform both anthropology and a full range of academic disciplines….”

The real issues ‘are being blurred’ | Research Information

“[Q] What do you see as the biggest challenges in scholarly publishing today?

[A] A mixture of cost, inaccessibility, and the academic reward mechanism which has grown up around particular modes of scholarly communication. Cost is being driven by two factors: the increasing amount of atomised research that researchers are publishing with subscription journals; and the continued above inflation price increases, particularly amongst some of the very largest publishers.

The challenge of inaccessibility is a very significant one. There is no one established model for open access, there’s still a lot of innovation going on and there are a number of models emerging. We haven’t yet found a mechanism for supporting the learned society journals in particular, who therefore become conflicted because on one hand they are benefiting from some of the monopolistic behaviours around copyright transfer, but on the other hand are using the funds that are generated as part of the publishing business to support their learned society activities. If you end up in a pay-to-publish open access world, that immediately disenfranchises the very people who can’t access the current content in the first place.

The academic reward mechanisms, whereby you have journal title as a proxy of quality, means publishing in high-impact journals is actively rewarded and encouraged and used as a short cut to determine career paths and promotion. There’s a perverse incentive to go after being published in certain places, rather than in making the outputs of publicly funded research available to a much broader community….”

Lawyers and law students’ signatures needed for Supreme Court amicus brief in favor of publishing the law / Boing Boing

“Attentive reader will note that rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously) published the laws of Georgia — including the paywalled annotations to the state laws — in 2015, prompting the state to sue him and literally call him a terrorist; Malamud countersued in 2015 and won a huge victory in 2018, when the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that the law could not be copyrighted.

Now, the State of Georgia wants to go to the Supreme Court to argue for its right to charge the people of Georgia to know which laws they are supposed to be following. There’s a lot at stake: Malamud has been threatened by Idaho, Oregon, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia for posting state laws and is being sued by six plaintiffs in DC for posting public safety laws, and has received a dozen more takedowns from Standards Development Organizations whose standards have been incorporated into state law.

Malamud and his counsel (Elizabeth Rader and Tom Goldstein and Eric Citron of Goldstein & Russell),are responding to Georgia’s petition and they are seeking amici: if you are a law student or practicioner they would like you to sign onto this amicus brief prepared by Jeff Pearlman by filling in this form….”

Lawyers and law students’ signatures needed for Supreme Court amicus brief in favor of publishing the law / Boing Boing

“Attentive reader will note that rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously) published the laws of Georgia — including the paywalled annotations to the state laws — in 2015, prompting the state to sue him and literally call him a terrorist; Malamud countersued in 2015 and won a huge victory in 2018, when the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that the law could not be copyrighted.

Now, the State of Georgia wants to go to the Supreme Court to argue for its right to charge the people of Georgia to know which laws they are supposed to be following. There’s a lot at stake: Malamud has been threatened by Idaho, Oregon, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia for posting state laws and is being sued by six plaintiffs in DC for posting public safety laws, and has received a dozen more takedowns from Standards Development Organizations whose standards have been incorporated into state law.

Malamud and his counsel (Elizabeth Rader and Tom Goldstein and Eric Citron of Goldstein & Russell),are responding to Georgia’s petition and they are seeking amici: if you are a law student or practicioner they would like you to sign onto this amicus brief prepared by Jeff Pearlman by filling in this form….”

‘Access is not really the main issue anymore’ | Research Information

The biggest challenge is the circularity of the entire structure of how we communicate with each other: things are tied up in a way that makes it very difficult to break up. The publishers, librarians, and faculty scientists all have very different perspectives, and it’s very difficult to cooperate when everyone has different perspectives and different interests. In a short phrase: it’s a social problem. 

Libraries, for instance, say “we would instantly drop our subscriptions, if we knew that faculty would be publishing elsewhere” because they don’t realise that if we publish elsewhere we risk our jobs. You just have to look up job ads for faculty or tenure track positions, and you’ll see we have to publish in certain journals if you want that job. Usually librarians are quite aghast or surprised when I tell them that this is the choice we have, they seem to see it as some subliminal self-stroking ego if we publish in certain journals. If one looks at our journal system and most journals that virtually guarantee you a job, those are journals that are also publishing the least reliable science. If you’ve done that for the last 30 years, then maybe it’s no surprise that we’re wondering about the reliability of science….”