If You Were Composing the Subversive Proposal Today…

Richard Poynder: “If you were composing the Subversive Proposal today how different would it be? Would it be different? If so, would you care to rephrase it to fit today?s environment? In other words, how would the Subversive Proposal look if written for a 2014 audience (in less than 500 words)?”

SH: Knowing now, in 2014, that researchers won?t do it of their own accord, I would have addressed the proposal instead to their institutions and funders, and in less than 200 words:
“To maximize the access, uptake, usage, progress, productivity, applications and impact of your publicly funded research output, mandate (require) that the refereed, revised, accepted final draft of all articles must be deposited in the author?s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication as a condition for research evaluation and funding. If you allow a publisher embargo on making the deposit OA (freely accessible to all online), implement the automated almost-OA Button (and don?t let the embargo exceed 6-12 months at most). This is called ?Gratis Green OA.? Do not pay for Gold OA journal publication fees (?Fool?s Gold?) until global Green OA has made subscriptions unsustainable; then you can pay for Fair-Gold out of your subscription cancellation savings. Fair-Gold will also be Libre OA (with re-use rights such as data-mining, re-mixing and re-publishing). Ignore publishers? lobbying to the effect that Green OA will destroy peer-reviewed journal publishing: it will re-vitalize it and save the research community a lot of money while maximizing the access, uptake, usage, progress, productivity, applications and impact of their research.”

And this is how I should have written the original Proposal in 1994:

FREE ONLINE ACCESS TO REFEREED RESEARCH: A SUBVERSIVE PROPOSAL

Abstract: We have heard many predictions about the demise of paper publishing, but life is short and the inevitable day still seems a long way off. This is a subversive proposal that could radically hasten that day. It is applicable only to refereed scientific and scholarly journal articles (but that is the lion’s share of the research corpus anyway), a body of work for which authors (researchers) do not and never have expected to SELL their words. They want only to PUBLISH them, that is, to reach the eyes of their peers, their fellow scientists and scholars the world over, so that they can build on one another’s work in that collaborative enterprise called learned inquiry.
      For centuries, it was only out of reluctant necessity that authors of research journal articles made the Faustian bargain to allow a price-tag to be erected as a barrier between their work and its intended readership because that was the only way to make their work public in the era when paper publication (and its substantial real expenses) were the only way to do so. But today there is another way, and that is by depositing it in the author’s institution’s online repository:
      If every research institution in the world this very day established a globally accessible online institutional repository for every piece of refereed research output from this day forward, and if all research institutions and research funders mandated (required) that the final, refereed drafts of all their research output must be deposited in the repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, the long-heralded transition to free online access would follow almost immediately.
      The only factor standing in the way of this transition at the moment is the fact that peer review happens to be implemented today almost exclusively by journal publishers. If all scholars’ refereed final drafts were universally available to all scholars online, institutions could cancel their journal subscriptions and refereed journal publishers would then have to restructure themselves, phasing out their obsolete print and online editions, access-provision and archiving and their costs, and downsizing to just implementing the peer review service, paid for by researchers’ institutions out of their subscription cancellation savings.
      The subversion will be complete, because the refereed research literature will have taken to the airwaves, where it always belonged, and those airwaves will be free (to the benefit of us all) because their true minimal expenses will be covered the optimal way for the unimpeded flow of research findings to all: In advance.

What’s in a Look? For Wolves, Maybe Everything

 

WolvesIt’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. They allow us to communicate feelings across a room, direct the attention of others, and express emotion better than words ever could.  The importance of eye contact in non-human species is well known—we’ve all heard that you shouldn’t stare a bear or angry dog in the eyes—but we don’t know a whole lot about how gaze is used between individuals of the same species. Japanese researchers took on this topic in a recent PLOS ONE article, focusing specifically on how eye contact and communication is affected by eye visibility and facial patterning around the eyes of canids.

Their research observed 25 canid species, comparing variations in facial pattern and coloring to observations about their social behavior and evolutionary history. They found that canines may use facial markers to either highlight or de-emphasize their eyes. Species with more distinguishable eyes tended to live and hunt in groups, where gaze-communication facilitates the teamwork that is necessary to bring down large prey and stay safe. Those with camouflaged eyes were more likely to live alone or in pairs, where communication with other members of their species may not be needed in the same way.

facial area maps

Using photos of each species, the authors analyzed the contrast between five areas of the canine face: pupil, iris, eyelid margin, coat around the eyes, and facial area including the eyes, as shown in the figure above. They measured contrast assuming red-green colorblindness of the observer (fun fact: canids cannot see the full spectrum of color). Species were then grouped according to the visibility of their eyes, described in the figure below:

  • Group A contained species with easily visible pupils and eye placement
  • Group B contained species with camouflaged pupils but clearly defined eye placement
  • Group C contained species with fully camouflaged eyes and pupils

group types

The authors found the strongest correlation between eye visibility and living and hunting behavior. More species in Group A, like gray wolves, live and hunt in packs, whereas more species in Groups B and C, like the fennec fox and bush dog, live and hunt alone or in pairs. Species in Group A also spend significantly more time in “gazing postures,” with their sight and body directed at another animal, an action that accentuates their focused attention to other members of the group. The genetic similarity between species was not as useful in explaining these differences, with A-type faces found in 8 of 10 wolf-like species, and in 3 of 10 red fox-like species. The authors suggest that A-type markings developed independently once these groups had evolutionarily split.

Lighter iris coloring is thought to be an adaptation to ultraviolet light in many species, similar to variations in human skin pigmentation. To determine whether this adaptation could explain the variation seen in canid iris color, the researchers compared the eye coloring of three wolf subspecies from Group A originating from arctic, temperate, and subtropical regions, to see if any differences in their lighter coloring could be attributed to geographical origin. They found that iris color did not vary significantly between the subspecies, suggesting that it may have developed to facilitate communication and not as an adaptation to specific geographical locations.

When the authors reviewed social behaviors, they found a number of social species with B- and C-type faces, the groups normally found alone or in pairs. These species are known to use acoustic or other visual signals, like a howl or the flash of a white tail, to communicate with their comrades. This allows them to skirt one possible disadvantage of gaze-communication: when prey can also identify and follow a gaze, and realize they’ve been targeted.

Gaze communication may be an important tool for other canids, including our own companions, domestic dogs. Previous studies have shown that domestic dogs are more likely to make direct eye contact with humans than wolves raised in the same setting. This could mean that after thousands of years of cohabitation, dogs see us in socially useful ways that wolves never will. Luckily for us, that means we get to see this.

Citation: Ueda S, Kumagai G, Otaki Y, Yamaguchi S, Kohshima S (2014) A Comparison of Facial Color Pattern and Gazing Behavior in Canid Species Suggests Gaze Communication in Gray Wolves (Canis lupus). PLoS ONE 9(6): e98217. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098217

Images 2 and 3: Figures 1 and 2 from the article

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