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scientific publishing rip-off? 
Posted: 12 October 2012 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Related, on book scanning, à la Google:

Court rules book scanning is fair use, suggesting Google Books victory [Judge rules for Google’s library partners in lawsuit brought by Authors Guild], is the headline from an arstechnica article, excerpt below:

The Author’s Guild has suffered another major setback in its fight to stop Google’s ambitious book-scanning project. The Guild lost a key ally when Google settled with a coalition of major publishers last week. Now a judge has ruled that the libraries who have provided Google with their books to scan are protected by copyright’s fair use doctrine....

HathiTrust Statement on Authors Guild v. HathiTrust Ruling, October 12, 2012, excerpt:

On October 10, 2012 Judge Harold Baer, Jr. of the U.S. Southern District of New York court ruled in our favor on Authors Guild, Inc. et al. v. HathiTrust et al. We are pleased that the court has recognized the importance of the work that libraries are performing to preserve the scholarly record and provide information and services to communities of scholars....

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Posted: 28 September 2013 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Grist for the mill:

http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=1430

NASA paywalls first papers arising from Curiosity rover, I am setting them free
By Michael Eisen | Published: September 26, 2013

The Mars Curiosity rover has been a huge boon for NASA – tapping into the public’s fascination with space exploration and the search for life on other planets. Its landing was watched live by millions of people, and interest in the photos and videos it is collecting is so great, that NASA has had to relocate its servers to deal with the capacity.

So what does NASA do to reward this outpouring of public interest (not to mention to $2.5 billion taxpayer dollars that made it possible)? They publish the first papers to arise from the project behind a Science magazine’s paywall:…

There is some controversy.

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Posted: 29 September 2013 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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Surely if NASA raises some money through the sale of these papers, it will _reduce_ the taxpayer burden.

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Posted: 29 September 2013 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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Publication in scientific journals does not earn any royalties for the authors.  NASA will not earn anything from publication of these results in Science.

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Posted: 29 September 2013 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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Nor is it NASA’s decision where to publish the papers. That decision is made by the authors. And, paywall or not, Science is just about the most prestigious journal a scientist can be published in.  So the authors, while not earning any money from the decision, do benefit in terms of their career.

This epitomizes the problem with academic publishing in a nutshell. A hugely expensive project, 100% funded by the taxpayer. And the only people making money off it is a publisher who had squat to do with it—they didn’t pay for the research; they didn’t pay for the writing; they didn’t pay for the peer reviewers; and the salaries they did pay were subsidized by universities. Meanwhile, the cost of journals like Science is bankrupting libraries, forcing them to cut their acquisitions in order to line the pockets of publishing execs and stockholders.

There really needs to be a law that any scientific papers that are the result of a publicly funded project must be made freely available to the public.

And that blogger is wrong about copyright law. Yes, works of the federal government are in the public domain, but these are works of the authors, not the government. What he states should be the law, but it isn’t. (And he could get in a lot of trouble for posting the copyrighted material.)

[ Edited: 29 September 2013 06:50 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 05 October 2013 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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Another academic hoax here.

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Posted: 05 October 2013 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Mark Liberman at Language Log has a good rundown, with a lot of good links.

The issue is not, as Science would claim, a problem with open access. It’s with the practice of charging author fees, which is not limited to open access journals, and problems inherent in peer review. One of the linked articles notes that Science has one of the highest rates of retracted articles in the academic publishing industry. So they suffer from the same problem.

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Posted: 04 September 2015 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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Academics are being hoodwinked into writing books nobody can buy, says the Guardian.. Eggheads beware.

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Posted: 04 September 2015 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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So why don’t academics simply stay away from the greedy publishers? The only answer I can think of is vanity.

The answer is tenure. You have to have at least one book to be considered for tenure. Publish or perish.

With the web and print on demand, there really isn’t a need for the traditional academic publishers anymore. But the demands of the institutional infrastructure keep pumping money into the system.

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Posted: 05 September 2015 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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But tenure isn’t a concern in the UK. The anonymous academic in the article refers to sterling so it would more likely be vanity in the UK or adding a book to your CV as he says.

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Posted: 06 September 2015 03:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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There are permanent positions at UK universities that are the equivalent of North American tenured jobs. Plus I’m sure there are other career advantages to being published. It’s not simply vanity.

Unfortunately the author is anonymous. It makes it hard to evaluate the piece when you don’t know how senior they are or what field they are in. (Perspectives on the value of publication vary considerably.)

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Posted: 06 September 2015 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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Yes, the Conservatives abolished tenure in the 1988 Education Reform Act. Only academics appointed before November 20 1987 now have tenure. Now academics have only the shaky safeguard in most institutional statutes that they shall not be dismissed “without good cause”, which of course is no safeguard at all. But as Dave says, publishing a book will certainly bolster your job security.

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Posted: 07 September 2015 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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Thanks. i didn’t know most of that. I knew about publish or perish and tenure from America. It is certainly true that publishing stuff in Britain will ease your way to a senior lecturership or a better position in another university, maybe even the prospect of being offered a professorship one day. (The best way to attain the latter must be writing a series of acclaimed and highly visible novels like Richard Russo and David Lodge did.) Do lecturers have to serve a probationary period after being hired? You can be great in interviews but a lousy teacher. Einstein had the credentials but I once read he was a poor lecturer in America because he assumed all his students were functioning at the same intellectual level he was. He still got tenure, though, maybe because of his early publications in German.

I still don’t understand why American academics are expected to publish. You could be an expert in your field and a fine teacher but with nothing new to offer in your field so why the insistence on publishing often pointless academic filler? Your job is to teach students and your performance can be assessed easily enough. Do many American academics stop writing as soon as they get tenure? Dr T is the go-to guy for this regarding the sciences and Dave has explained a lot generally already.

The publisher in the article surely gets more business in America than in Britain. But is it game over if the people reviewing the grounds for tenure or whatever know about the publisher’s racket? He doesn’t name then either. Someone might misguidedly labour over an original and valuable work without realising it is doomed to be unread unless a review board pores over it - yeah, right. It’s probably best to cobble together a bunch of old papers like the anonymous author says some do. At least they don’t have to pay for the privilege unlike those who use real vanity print publishers who must really be hurting now in the age of the blog. TMI!

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Posted: 08 September 2015 03:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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Universities have two missions: 1) advancing knowledge, i.e., research; and 2) teaching. These missions are not unrelated as, research feeds into teaching. A professor who is actively researching is going to be abreast of the latest developments in her field and can pass on that knowledge to her students. Plus, a top-notch researcher, particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, will bring in grant money sufficient to pay her salary and that of her grad students and to equip lab space. (Grants in the humanities aren’t so lucrative, but often can pay a portion of the professor’s salary so she gets some relief from teaching in order to do more research and put some money into the pocket of graduate students research assistants who badly need it to eat and for rent.)

[And from my personal experience as a grad student at two R1 universities, Berkeley and Toronto, the great researchers also tend to be very good teachers. The two go hand in hand. It is possible to be a great researcher and a lousy teacher, but from my limited experience, that doesn’t happen very often. It may be that at schools that have to be less picky about who they hire and who they grant tenure, that situation may obtain more often. But the academic job market is so tight that most schools can find people who are good at both.]

The question is what is the proper mix of research and teaching. The system at most universities pays only lip service to teaching ability, partly because teaching ability is very hard to measure. Research is quantifiable, although some of the metrics can be misunderstood or abused. Journals are rated with “impact factors” that measure the relative prestige of one journal to another, and you can trace how often a particular article or book is cited in the literature. (You can go to Google Scholar to see how often something has been cited.) Where you get published matters. A book published by Oxford UP or Harvard UP will count a lot more than a book from something more akin to a vanity press. The standards will vary from school to school. The top “R1” research universities, like Stanford, Berkeley, or Toronto, will expect more of its professors than a small state university. Although, with the academic job market the way it is, even the podunk universities can afford to be very demanding.

Another problem is that every school models itself on the R1 institutions; they want to be the “Harvard of the South” or the “Harvard of Eastern Mariposa County.” So schools whose primary function is churning out undergraduate degrees, place an inordinate emphasis on research. The mix of research and teaching needs to be aligned with the individual school’s mission.

There have been various attempts to address the problem of teaching being ignored, none terribly successful. Some schools have instituted “teaching stream” tenure tracks, where research is supposedly de-emphasized in favor of teaching ability. But the problem is that tenure committees are so used to evaluating research, they don’t understand how to evaluate teaching. (Not to mention that it’s much, much more difficult.) Some schools have implemented teaching stream appointments successfully, but many have not.

Bear in mind that this applies just to tenure-track positions. Only about a third of university teaching positions in North America are tenured or tenure-track. Two thirds of the teachers work on a contingent basis, often with no job security from semester to semester. These professors get no support for their research from the school, and if they want to make enough to eat, have to take on teaching loads that preclude research. So they become rather desperate to publish so they can get onto the tenure track, and this feeds the lower tier of academic publishing. Doonesbury this past Sunday lampooned the academic job market rather brilliantly.

[ Edited: 08 September 2015 04:01 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 08 September 2015 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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Just as long as you don’t curse.

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