Right, that’s it — time for the revolution

September 3, 2009

UPDATE (from Matt): I also bring good news … and bad news.

The good news is that the entire dinosaur issue of Anatomical Record is open access after all. So this post is mainly of historical interest now, and you should get on over to the page for this issue and download all the free dinosaurian goodness.

The bad news is that the representatives from Wiley never told anyone any of this when inquiries were made two weeks ago–if they had, this particular teacup could have stayed storm-free–and that they apparently still want institutions to pay $575 for a single Open Access issue of the journal. Whether those moves are predatory or just clueless, they are not earning Wiley any friends.

—————-

I bring good news … and bad news.

Good news! Tom Holtz reported in a message to the Dinosaur Mailing List that there is new issue of The Anatomical Record out that is concerned entirely with dinosaurs!  The online table of contents shows that there’s lots of good stuff.

Bad news! It’s not open access.

Good news! You can buy access to the articles.

Bad news! The price of the articles is NOT STATED.  That’s right, folks: you have to register with Wiley InterScience before they will EVEN TELL YOU THE PRICE!  Way to go, Wiley!  THAT’s the way to make sure important research is widely disseminated!

Good news! B tH wrote to ask the publisher for a price, and got a reply, which he shared in another Dinosaur Mailing List message:

Bad news! This is the reply (which I can’t format better, thanks to totally unnecessary limitations in WordPress):

Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 12:48:21 -0700 (PDT)

From: B tH <soylentgreenistrex@yahoo.com>

To: dinosaur@usc.edu

Subject: re: special all-dino issue

I wrote to ask them how much ordering this singl issue was – they wanted to know if I was ordering for an institution or myself. This is the price they quoted me to buy and read it at night with a flashlight under the blankey – and I am totally serious:

$575.00 US

That’s right, five HUNDRED and seventy-five buckeroos.   I assured them they were quite mad, and have to face the fact I won’t get to see it.   Waaah.

Good news! B tH realised that Wiley had quoted him the institutional rate and wrote to clarify.  The exchange is documented in yet another Dinosaur Mailing List message.

Bad news! This is the exchange:

Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 6:07 PM

To: cs-journals@wiley.com

Subject: RE: wanting to purchase an issue of the magazine [pfCase:1078353,

pfTicket:10108736]

Um, I think you’ve made an error.

Five-Hundred and Seventy-Five dollars for an issue of a magazine?  ??

==============

From: <cs-journals@wiley.com>

Dear __________

The Anatomical Record, Volume 292, Issue 9

Thank you for your email.

As we do not have Individual rates for this title, hence the Institutional single issue rate was quoted instead.

Please provide us with a billing and shipping address if you require a proforma invoice for this order and I will happy to assist you.

Kind Regards,

Jacqueline Choong

Customer Services Advisor

Journal Customer Services for John Wiley & Sons

Good news! The revolution is coming, and things like this can only bring it on.  And Wiley’s InterScience department are a bunch of mindless jerks who will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

Yes, Wiley’s behaviour here is totally absurd and absolutely unethical.  No, Wiley didn’t themselves write the articles that they want to charge FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE FREAKIN’ DOLLARS for.  Neither did they pay the authors to do so.  Do you know how it comes to be that Wiley are the owners of these articles, and thus in a position to extort for access?  Happily, the reason is right here in the Instructions to Authors:

MISCELLANEOUS

[…]

Upon acceptance of an article for publication, the author will be asked to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement transferring rights to the publisher, who reserves copyright.

Yes, it’s as simple as that.  Like all of us do most times we submit a manuscript, the authors just signed away the ownership of their work.  Just like that.  Work that was funded, if at all, by public funds, just handed over to a grossly exploitative for-profit commercial enterprise that — quite clearly, from the exchanges above — has no interest whatsoever in the advancement or dissemination of science.

Folks, we have got to stop doing this.  I can (just) stomach handing copyright of my work over to professional societies such as the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (required for the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology) or the Palaeontological Association (required for Palaeontology) [although frankly there is absolutely no good reason for these journals to make that requirement].  But I will NOT give my work to these parasitic commercial publishers, and I strongly urge you not to, either.  We should all of us be supporting open-access journals where possible; and failing that, at least those published by non-profit organisations.  I am not going to be propping up Elsevier, Wiley and the rest with any of my stuff.

Deep in our heart, we all — Wiley included — know that non-open academic publishing is dead, even if the corpse is still blundering around trying to eat our brains.  This sort of extortion (I mean the FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE FREAKIN’ DOLLARS kind) is death throes.  It’s probably going to get messier before the stakes are finally driven through the hearts of the bloodsuckers.  But take heart: morning is coming, and they will all turn to dust.

And finally …

More Good news! I give you NHM 46869, the holotype of Chondrosteosaurus gigas Owen 1876, a badly eroded cervical centrum from some kind of sauropod, in right lateral view:

NHM 46869, holotype of Chondrosteosaurus gigas, a cervical centrum, in right lateral view.

NHM 46869, holotype of Chondrosteosaurus gigas, a cervical centrum, in right lateral view.

This is the mate of NHM 46870, a specimen that we have already given way too much coverage, and which has sometimes been considered the cotype along with 46869.  Unlike its mate, it has not been sliced down the middle, and is — for what it’s worth — “complete” (i.e. not actually complete at all).

References

  • Owen, Richard.  1876.  Monograph of the fossil Reptilia of the Wealden and Purbeck formations.  Supplement 7.  Crocodilia (Poikilopleuron), Dinosauria (Chondrosteosaurus),  Palaeontographical Society of London [Monographs], 29:15-93.
This is the reply:
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 12:48:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: B tH <soylentgreenistrex@yahoo.com>
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: re: special all-dino issue
I wrote to ask them how much ordering this singl issue was – they wanted to know if I was ordering for an institution or myself. This is the price they quoted me to buy and read it at night with a flashlight under the blankey – and I am totally serious:
$575.00 US
That’s right, five HUNDRED and seventy-five buckeroos.   I assured them they were quite mad, and have to face the fact I won’t get to see it.   Waaah.
Good news!  B tH realised that Wiley had quoted him the institutional rate and wrote to clarify.  The exchange is documented in yet another Dinosaur Mailing List message.
Bad news!  This is the exchange:
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 6:07 PM
To: cs-journals@wiley.com
Subject: RE: wanting to purchase an issue of the magazine [pfCase:1078353,
pfTicket:10108736]
Um, I think you’ve made an error.
Five-Hundred and Seventy-Five dollars for an issue of a magazine?  ??
==============
==============
From: <cs-journals@wiley.com>
Dear __________
The Anatomical Record, Volume 292, Issue 9
Thank you for your email.
As we do not have Individual rates for this title, hence the Institutional single issue rate was quoted instead.
Please provide us with a billing and shipping address if you require a proforma invoice for this order and I will happy to assist you.
Kind Regards,
Jacqueline Choong
Customer Services Advisor
Journal Customer Services for John Wiley & Sons
Good news!  The revolution is coming, and things like this can only bring it on.  And Wiley’s InterScience department are a bunch of mindless jerks who will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.
Yes, Wiley’s behaviour here is totally absurd and absolutely unethical.  No, Wiley didn’t themselves write the articles that they want to charge FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE FREAKIN’ DOLLARS for.  Neither did they pay the authors to do so.  Do you know how it comes to be that Wiley are the owners of these articles, and thus in a position to extort for access?  Happily, the reason is right here in the Instructions to Authors:
MISCELLANEOUS
[…]
Upon acceptance of an article for publication, the author will be asked to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement transferring rights to the publisher, who reserves copyright.
###
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54 Responses to “Right, that’s it — time for the revolution”

  1. ScottE Says:

    That is insane. I could see paying a tenth of that for the entire book, but that price is absurd, absurd, absurd.


  2. Here here! 575 bucks! Even the biggest academic books out there, like The ‘Evolution of Artiodactyls’ cost like around 100 bucks and it has more damn pages than the latest special issue of the Anatomical Record!

    just ridicolous.

  3. Zach Miller Says:

    Wow. And people wonder why print media is dying.

    If anyone wants help getting this issue, email me. I have some inside information.

    It is a good bunch of articles. A little bit too much FEA for my tastes (always with the FEA these days) but certainly informative.

    sillysaur at gmail dot com

  4. Nathan Myers Says:

    There can be no such thing as too much FEA; FEA applied to the wrong things, maybe, or done wrong, or results misunderstood, sure. To say “too much FEA” would be like saying “too much molecular phylogenetics” or “too many sauropod vertebrae”: a prima facie absurdity.

  5. casey holliday Says:

    First, Anatomical Record is the flagship publication (along with Developmental Dynamics and an Anatomy Education Journal) of the American Association of Anatomists. So, just like I’m a member of SVP, and publish in JVP, I’m also a member of AAA, and publish in THEIR journal (regardless of Wiley, whoever owns JVP now, etc.). The cost of reprints is a little less for JVP if you don’t count the fee-to-freely-distribute-PDF…an extra 3-400$ for JVP. Then they’re about equal. If you want a pdf of my paper, you can download it for FREE from my website. And when reprints show up, you can get one of those for FREE (thanks to my research account, and some tax dollars), and if you collect them all from the different authors, likely for Free, You can staple/glue/bind/weave them together and have a free version of the journal issue.

    Second, getting this much Dinosaur Science in a Biomedical journal like Anat Record is great for the field since it further increases the visibility of the work and the high level of detail and analysis that most people put into their publications. So, yeah, its not free/open access in some piddly, focused Paleo journal (all due respect, I like Paleo Electr Alot, among others). Instead its in a reknowned interdisciplinary journal that Anatomy faculty will be receiving in their inboxes around the country/world. Carmine Clemente, Frank Netter, Keith Moore, (If Henry Gray was alive), among others will be getting this journal. So its also a service to Paleo/comparative anatomy at large. And frankly/personally it was a real honor and pleasure to get a paper into the volume (can’t argue with free color figures). Dodson made it all come together within about 6-7 months, which might be historic, and it is a good contribution to the field.

    Finally, Yeah sounds like the price is high (and remember that was the institutional cost)…so maybe/likely it’ll be less at SVP where I believe it was intended to be made available. OF COURSE no one s going to pay freakin 500 dollars for a journal issue.

    I checked with AAA and they don’t know of an individual rate (see above comment about availability at SVP) and also referred me to Wiley. Its only like 130 bucks (non-student) or so to join AAA, and get 12 hard copies of the journal. But AAA said if you join the society (they’re supposed to say that), you get all of the back issues, as well as the dinosaur issue. And there are usually 1-2 paleo/comp. anat. relevant papers (at least) per issue. Apparently this hasn’t really happened before. So seems like its actually a good thing, not necessarily something to raise the pitchforks about. Be happy for Paleo/Dinosaur Science (and Pete Dodson) for getting an issue like this together. You all are off base and jumping to conclusions waaaay too fast.

  6. casey holliday Says:

    My apologies, my last line was meant to be internal dialogue and admittedly a bit harsh. But, let’s wait and see what happens first before getting all up in the open access/revolution talk.

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks for your alternative perspective, Casey. No need to apologise for the last line, we take it in the spirit it was intended. And, yes, an issue like this in an interdisciplinary journal IS potentially good news for spreading the dino-gospel.

    Still, none of what you say greatly changes my feelings about this. If copyright is owned by AAA rather than Wiley, then that would be slightly heinous, but the bottom line is still that 99.9% of the world’s population is absolutely excluded from benefitting from this publication; and that is just plain wrong. The argument that “getting this much Dinosaur Science in a Biomedical journal like Anat Record is great for the field since it further increases the visibility” is only valid if by “visibility” you mean “visiblity of tantalising titles and abstracts functioning as an advert for a product that most people can’t get”.

  8. Mu Says:

    Casey, while it’s great that you’re making your article available as pdf on your website, it’s afaik a clear violation of copyright law to do so if you signed a copyright transfer notice. Journals usually don’t pursue any claims against their authors, as to not lose the free work they are getting, but legally you’re toast if they do.

  9. Nathan Myers Says:

    If you feel you must let such a journal publish your paper, you should write them a copyright waiver instead of a transfer. A copyright waiver gives them every right they need. To demand a transfer from you expresses contempt.

  10. Mike Taylor Says:

    BTW., for anyone who’s having trouble finding it, Casey’s page on this paper is at http://web.missouri.edu/~hollidayca/Dino%20Jaw%20Muscles/2009%20Holliday%20Dinosaur%20Jaw%20Muscles.pdf

    Thanks, Casey, for making it available!

    (By the way, the footnote at the bottom of the first page makes it clear, unfortunately, that it really is Wiley that owns the copyright of this paper, not the AAA as I’d hoped — or Casey, as it should be.)

  11. ScottE Says:

    I think contempt is a poorly-chosen word for this. It used to be common practice for the publishing industry to own completely what they published. Now more and more creators own what they create (comics, articles, fiction &c.).

    The publishers in this case are just behind the times.

  12. Nathan Myers Says:

    I suspect F. Scott Fitzgerald’s and Hemingway’s heirs would be surprised to hear that their respective benefactor got a special deal from the publisher. More typically it’s authors of “works for hire” that are obliged to sign over ownership. In this case, of course, the authors were not commissioned to produce a specific work, and were not paid for it.

    “Contempt” is about right. It may be that the contempt was felt mainly by the originators of the practice, and not necessarily by later publishers’ agents, but anybody there who is aware of details of copyright law and has the opportunity to do otherwise is expressing it anew.

  13. Zach Miller Says:

    *raises hand*

    Also, that new ceratopsian book coming out in November? It’ll be 400+ pages (not 288), include a CD, will be in hardcover, and will have a removable dust jacket.

    It will cost $110, which is just shy of $575. What’s the AAA’s excuse?

  14. Paul Barrett Says:

    Again, sorry to burst the open access bubble, but who pays? Although I agree the price quoted for this single journal issue is absurd, why do you think publishers charge? Paper costs money, printing costs money, paying for editors, sub-editors, packagers etc costs money. Even if you go completely online you still have to pay editors and webdevelopers to produce a journal. If publishers (including professional societies, whose content editors are effectively volunteers anyway) make no charge for their product, what is their incentive to produce a journal? They don’t do it for philanthropy. There’s always got to be a charge until we live in some utopian future where no-one wants/needs a salary. Open access is a great idea, but who does pay? What’s the bottom line?

  15. Mike Taylor Says:

    Paul, we should write an article that discusses that in more detail at some time. Briefly, though, here are a few models than can work A LOT better than what The Anatomical Record is doing here.

    1. Journal makes PDFs freely available, but charges for paper copies for those who want them. This is what Acta Pal Pol does (though possibly with state subsidy).

    2. Publicly funded journal — science is in a country’s interest and is already publicly funded, so there is no reason why that public funding should not go into publication as well as research (and, crucially, instead of being spent on ludicrously inflated subscriptions).

    3. Non-open access that is not exploitative, as in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, which (A) is available at a reasonable price, and (B) exists for the benefit of the discipline rather than for shareholders. [No doubt (A) is a direct consequence of (B).]

    4. Author pays. This is how the PLoS journals work. Waivers are available for authors with no institutional funding (how do you think Darren and Mark got their azdharchid paper in?) and AFAIK this is pretty common.

    5. Author has the option of paying to make the article OA, and otherwise it is paywalled. This is what Proc. B and Zootaxa do, among others. In some ways this is less appealing than 4 because AFAIK these journals don’t offer waivers to unfunded authors.

    I might even add …

    6. Non-open publishing by a commercial publisher that has non-exploitative prices. I can’t think of an example in this category right now, though — maybe someone can help me out?

  16. David Marjanović Says:

    Even as an institutional price, 575 $ is madness.

    And it’s not Sparta.

  17. Andy Says:

    A few thoughts here. . .

    1) Beyond the open access / non-open access issue, I am always thinking about issues of general accessibility. (which is really what the money issue comes down to, anyhow). Beyond the avocational paleontological community, there are many, many paid professional paleontologists who do not have access to a great percentage of the scientific literature. We work at museums and the small colleges and universities without the institutional finances for paying the hefty (electronic or analog) subscription fees for journals. I do not think it is a secret that the “free” PDF downloaded by university professor or student from Elsevier or Blackwell is paid for by the university – via tax dollars, student fees, overhead from grants, etc. These library subscriptions not only pay for the good journals, but also garbage like Chaos, Solitons, and Fractals (if you are not familiar with Elsevier’s history of publishing this and other journals, you should get acquainted, and soon). I’m often able to get a complimentary PDF from the authors, but I’m not always able to get in touch with them. Quite frankly, I can’t afford to pay $35 per article to access the scientific literature (as Elsevier charges).

    2) Professional copy editors, printers, etc., deserve to be paid for their efforts – most people would not dispute this. Yes, journals costs money. The real problem is that most publishers are increasing their charges rates well beyond the price of inflation – look up “serials crisis” for more information on this (yes, it is a real crisis). Don’t forget that much of the value of the journal (?all of the value?) is provided for free by us scientists – content, peer review, etc. In many cases, I suspect the motivation for these publishers is profit. As Mike brings up (and many, many other individuals have brought up elsewhere), there are plenty of alternative models to the current, most common system.

    3) The Anatomical Record is available to members of the AAA at a very reasonable rate (~$130, as part of the membership, according to Casey). Same for JVP. I don’t dispute this, and completely support these societies. The bigger issue is that it seems to be ridiculously difficult to get copies of the articles if you aren’t a member or can’t get ahold of the author. I can’t afford to join every single society out there. . .but I would be willing to pay $5 or so for individual PDF access.

    OK, I’ve written enough now. . .

    [fair disclosure 1: I was an author on the issue in question, and think Peter did a wonderful job putting this together. On a whole, it’s a good thing for increasing the profile of paleo – the only snafu being getting individual issues right away. I’ll check and see what I can find out about this]

    [fair disclosure 2: I am an academic editor for PLoS ONE, and a tremendous supporter of open access, so take my comments within that context]

  18. Nick Gardner Says:

    Andy Farke wrote:
    “The Anatomical Record is available to members of the AAA at a very reasonable rate (~$130, as part of the membership, according to Casey).”

    And only $30 for students (online access only though). That’s a much better deal than SVP’s student rate ($70), and there are a lot more perks available to AAA members.

    The university I’m currently enrolled in does not subscribe to any of the publishing sites where the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology is distributed, e.g. JSTOR and BioOne. Nor do they subscribe to Taylor and Francis, for which JVP will soon be distributed through. Of course, this isn’t an issue for me, because I am a student member of SVP.

    Zach Miller wrote:
    “It will cost $110, which is just shy of $575. What’s the AAA’s excuse?”

    See other comments.

  19. Amya Watkins Says:

    I agree with most who think the price is too steep. I think that the value is there though. The true tragedy is that publishers are increasing their charges rates well above inflation.

  20. Nima Says:

    575 dollars for a frickin’ paper??? Those prices are INSANE!

    Another classic case of a GREEDY publisher run by corporate bureaucrats, not scientists, who stifle the dissemination of new science to bulge their own pockets. Yeah, I said “bulge” not “line”.

    $575 is the sort of price gouging that would make Exxon and Shell vomit out of sheer envy. This kind of tomfoolery makes me wish Wiley InterScience would just roll over and die.

    Keep up the good work guys, I commend you for publishing in honest journals like Polonica and shunning cash vampires like Wiley and Elsevier. These corporate publishing vultures make my life miserable enough when buying college textbooks, and they certainly don’t deserve your research. Keep these great posts going, give ‘em hell :D

  21. Nick Gardner Says:

    “575 dollars for a frickin’ paper??? Those prices are INSANE!”
    For an institutional rate for a single issue or something.

    But you could just as easily join AAA for $130 (or $30 at a student rate) and get access.


  22. Ugh that’s a lot of money!

    On a different subject that is both more Sauropod related and of the good news variety, over on ART Evolved (the palaeo-art blog), our next big art gallery is Sauropod themed.

    I was wondering if I could humbly implore you the great Sauropod gurus to maybe give us a quick public plug, so that we might get even more new Sauropod restorations created for it…

    There is also bound to be some discussion there between us artists that we sure could use some technical expects like yourselves and your readers to join in on (and help us from making accuracy mistakes)

    http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2009/09/novembers-upcoming-gallery.html has many of the details feel free to grab the logo there if you’d like (or contact me on my blog and I can email it). It even has a nice close up on the tail for the vert requirments of photos on your site ;) (It is the Camarosaur mount at the Royal Tyrrell if you wanted that info)

    Thank you so much guys!

  23. M. O. Erickson Says:

    Wiley InterScience is nothing but a joke. Several months ago when I was naive of their evils, I purchased 1 day access to Barney Newman’s old paper on the posture and gait of Tyrannosaurus rex. The article was 30 bucks, but I thought hey, it’s a classic paper, I can print it out and keep it, therefore it’s worth it. I fork over the cash, download the PDF, and guess what? The paper is five pages long. 30 dollars for five little pages. And the figures are missing. Yup, that’s right, the FIGURES THAT ARE CONSTANTLY REFERRED TO OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN THE TEXT ARE NOT FREAKING THERE. And there was NO disclaimer about the missing figures; if there was I would not have bought the article. So anyway, I email them. Even though I am fuming mad, I am insanely polite in the email. I get no response. Not even a “buzz off idiot”, nothing.

    This rant will close with a notice to all other earthly humans: Avoid Wiley at all costs, or you will be very, very sorry.

  24. Paul Barrett Says:

    Hi Mike,

    In response to your comments:

    APP is open access as it makes money through page charges and reprint sales. The other journals you mention that give Open Access charge the authors in some way or another. Where does this money come from? Most institutions do not provide money for page charges – this has to come from grants, and many grant providers (e.g. NERC, the principal funder of palaeontological research in the UK) generally cut page charges from grants (I know, I have suffered from this directly on several occasions). Hence it ends up coming out of your own pocket (I have paid over £1000 in page charges from own resources over the past two years, before even getting to the question of open access). I don’t see why I should pay out of my own pocket to get anything published so others can simply get it for free – sorry, I’m not that philanthropic. To some extent you’re asking people like me, that work in institutions that do not fund open access, to pay out of our own pockets to fund people not in institutions (who have charges waived). Not equable. Also, governments are very unlikely to take over journal funding from publishers – this is just naive and harks back to some utopian ideal that ignores the free market. It all still comes down to a bottom line – who pays to publish. At the moment all Open Access models are relying on some people who get the grant money to support such publication (which in itself potentially stifles publication of non-grant supported research) or on people paying themselves (and also on the lower costs of mainly web publication). However, I agree that many journals do seem to charge a lot for reprints etc. However, it would be interesting to know the actual ‘real’ cost of such things and the amount of profit they make from them. After all, there are probably only a few hundred copies in circulation of various specialist journals, which makes them expensive to produce and reduces their margins. Big journals probably subsidise the small ones to some extent.

  25. Andy Says:

    Some of my own thoughts in response to Paul’s comment above:

    Also, governments are very unlikely to take over journal funding from publishers – this is just naive and harks back to some utopian ideal that ignores the free market

    The thing is, many publishers already are funded by the government in some form or another. I don’t think it’s a secret that most NSF grants (I don’t know if it’s the same for NERC or NRC) have “overhead” written in to them – a “slush fund” of up to 50 percent of the grant total that goes to the host institution. This overhead pays to keep the lights on, fund various non-research employees, facilities, etc. I would be willing to bet this overhead also pays at least part of the cost for institutional journal subscriptions. I would also be willing to bet that this “cash cow” has driven the rise in journal subscription costs for commercial publishers. There have been suggestions to start turning these subscription fees into open access fees. Not a perfect solution (my crystal ball sees some commercial publishers raising their open access fees rapidly), but it is an alternative. Yes, this means some people will be subsidizing others – but this is already the norm in science! Our SVP membership subsidizes JVP, my tax dollars (via institutional overhead) subsidize Nature and other journals, and my volunteer efforts as an author, reviewer, and editor (I consider this a subsidy, too) have never gotten me more than an invoice from Elsevier.

    all Open Access models are relying on some people who get the grant money to support such publication (which in itself potentially stifles publication of non-grant supported research)

    I would also point out that non open-access publishing (particularly when coupled with the $30 or $35 article download fee for a 2 page PDF) stifles access to the literature for “poor institution” researchers or independent researchers.

    There is no perfect solution. . .but I think most people would be in agreement that the current system needs to change. No more of this $35 for download privileges. No more $10,000 institutional subscriptions for second-rate journals. No more relegating those at small institutions to second-class citizens when it comes to accessing the literature.

  26. Andy Says:

    (on reading my above after it posted, I should also point out that I am totally fine with volunteering as author, editor, and reviewer – in fact, I love doing all of these. My main beef is with the frequent response of “value added” by the journals – most of the value added in the publication process is added for free by those scientists who volunteer their participation.)

  27. Heinrich Mallison Says:

    There’s one thing I would like to point out about this entire issue:

    Many publishers ask prices that nobody I know is willing to pay, even for horribly old stuff. $25 plus credit card charge for a 1977 two page toss-off by some obscure Russion guy, scanned in bad quality (I could tell from the ‘preview’ of the abstract)? No thank you!

    I, for one, have NEVER bought a single PDF online. Not once. Why? because the prices are too steep.

    But cheaper means less profit for the publisher, right?

    NOT SO! Currently, I trade time spent (library, copier, exchange loan, emailing authors) for time saved. But I have often been browsing journal archives where I would have ended up buying five or ten papers at one go if only they had been $2.95 for short ones and $4.95 for long ones. (And good quality scans for back issues, too!) So the publishers could easily have earned some 20 to 30 bucks off me – instead they got zip, zilch, nada, gornischt!

    So shouting ‘they need to cover costs’ is only half the truth.

    And, may I add that APP only asks page charges for longer papers? Don’t diss one of the best journals out there!

  28. Andy Says:

    I have bought PDF’s online, but only from Journal of Experimental Biology. They charge $10 per article, which is maybe a little higher than I’d like, but they also have open access one year after publication. So, I consider this a small price for immediate gratification. JEB is published by The Company of Biologists, who seem to be one of the few “good guys” among publishers when it comes to quasi-reasonable access to the literature.

  29. Matt Wedel Says:

    Re the “who pays” question for OA: the best solution would be for institutions to stop having to pay ridiculous subscription rates and instead use that money to fund their researchers’ OA publications. Obviously that system isn’t in place yet, but we could and should be agitating for it.

    Often I see the argument that “publication is expensive and someone has to pay, so OA is no better than the current system” (I am not pinning this on any of the discussants here), and that is just not true. Under OA someone pays and then the work is available to everyone, forever; under the current system everyone pays and then the work is available to the select few, temporarily (if your library drops journal X, no more archival access for you!), and often with cumbersome restrictions.

    This gets back to the first few comments. I felt that Casey and Mike were speaking past each to some extent.
    Mike: Wiley’s pricing for this issue is predatory and unethical.
    Casey: This issue is a Good Thing because it raises the visibility of dinosaur science among anatomists.

    Well, these are two very different things! Can we all agree that, yes, the fact that this issue exists is a Good Thing, but the way its pricing is being handled by Wiley is not? I am happy that the issue will hopefully bring broader attention to vertebrate paleontology; I lament the fact that it will likely remain out of the reach of most people. It’s true that we degreed professionals are usually writing for other degreed professionals, but that doesn’t mean that keeping our work out of the hands of the public is smart or desirable or, when you get right down to it, the least bit defensible. Yeah, it’s good that many (not all) authors will post their papers on their websites and that the others will usually (not always) e-mail the PDFs to people who ask for them. It would be a lot better if the stupid publishers had charged a fair price in the first place, or if they were doing anything to try to improve access (that wasn’t rammed down their greedy throats by the NIH) instead of gouging the crap out of us while they ride the old business model to its inevitable fiery end.

    Back when the post neck posture blogfest was going on, I saw a quote from somebody–probably Clay Shirky or Bora–along the lines of, “We wouldn’t be so happy about the potential collapse of commercial publishers if they hadn’t spent the last few years been such unethical predatory jerkwads” (the original was more eloquent, I’m sure). I wish I could find the quote now, because it sure is apt.

  30. Mike Taylor Says:

    Lots of good stuff there from Matt, and I plan to look in more detail at the financial aspect of Open Access in a forthcoming post. Just wanted to comment briefly on this bit: “Casey: This issue is a Good Thing because it raises the visibility of dinosaur science among anatomists.” Yes, it’s certainly true! If anything I said earlier gave the impression that I disagree with this, that wasn’t my intention. It’s just the the Good Thing is only a fraction as Good as it could have been.

  31. William Miller Says:

    A stupid question probably, but re: “publication is expensive and someone has to pay”: isn’t *online* publication very, very cheap? The amount of web space text-plus-still-images takes up is available for free or nearly so from many hosting services.

    Isn’t the fundamental problem that the journal used for print publication won’t accept an unrelated online release of the material?

  32. Mike Taylor Says:

    William: online HOSTING is very cheap, yes — at least, compared with manufacturing physical copies and shipping them all over the place. But the real costs of online publishing are all to do with the process, not the product: editors, reviewers, typesetters, etc., all have to put in plenty of time to get a paper published, whether online or on paper. (As it turns out, scientists provide a lot of this labour free of charge, but that doesn’t stop publishers claiming it as part of the “added value” that they provide.)

    It would be really good to see the actual cost breakdown of a real journal — ideally of two or three.

  33. Mike Keesey Says:

    “isn’t *online* publication very, very cheap?”

    Throwing a PDF up somewhere is cheap. Building an actual website is another matter. In addition to what Mike Taylor said, there’s website design and structure to think of: content management, databases, search engine optimization, etc. Look at, e.g., PLoS ONE‘s commenting features — I guarantee that cost something significant somewhere along the line.

    That said, it’s possible that online publication still comes out cheaper than traditional publication, considering that there’s no logging, pulp-mashing, binding, heavy machinery, or shipping involved. Generally I’d imaginer that there’s a large initial investment in the website followed by low maintenance costs thereafter (or at least until the next upgrade).

  34. Brian Beatty Says:

    I’m curious about what journals out there do NOT require authors to sign away copyright to the journal or publishers?
    I know that PalArch doesn’t (www.palarch.nl), and I don’t remember signing anything over to the VMNH for Jeffersoniana (http://www.vmnh.net/index.cfm/topic/free-downloads), but how many journals appropriate for our field handle it this way?
    It would be great for there to be a regular list available of this, akin to how Open Source Paleontologist helps us all stay aware of open access journals.

  35. Jason Hoyt Says:

    Disclaimer: I am the Research Director at Mendeley.com

    Just wanted to point out a great discussion on the subject of Open Access that I had with the managing editor of PLoS ONE.

    It was taped two weeks ago on Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour with Leo Laporte. The video is at http://odtv.me/2009/08/dr-kikis-science-hour-14/

  36. Nick Gardner Says:

    From AAA’s member services and marketing manager:

    “If you join as a student member, I can have the publisher to send you
    the one issue for free (the Dinosaur issue)…after that, your student
    membership will get you the journal via email but not in print until you
    graduate and become a Regular Member…how does this sound?”

    Student membership is $30.

  37. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks for passing that on, Nick — this 95% discount constitutes a good offer for those among us who are still students. It’s also good to know that, whatever game the publisher is playing, the AAA itself remains on the side of the angels.

  38. casey Says:

    FYI, the Anatomical Record issue is 575$ less than 575$ and can be found with free access at:

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117927936/grouphome/home.html

    next time, let’s not call a publication “dumb” before all the details are in ok? please?

    “and off-topic rant on the
    price of the dumb Anatomical Record issue:”

    http://dml.cmnh.org/2009Sep/msg00039.html

  39. Nick Gardner Says:

    AAA normally makes all of its special issues of The Anatomical Record open-access and all of their articles are available 12 months after their publication.

    Incidentally, the Dinosaur Issue is available freely online.

  40. Matt Wedel Says:

    next time, let’s not call a publication “dumb” before all the details are in ok? please?

    So let me get this straight: because the issue is freely available now, it was wrong to be upset about the ridiculous overcharging two weeks ago, even though the quoted e-mails from Wiley never mentioned that the issue would be freely available at any point in the future? I guess anytime anything appears overcharged, we’re supposed to wait until “all the details are in” (or 12 days, whichever comes first) before we’re allowed to be upset, just in case the publisher changes its mind (or, in this case, the publisher’s representative either did not know about or chose not to tell us about the OA).

    Also, it should be clear from context that Mike’s “dumb” was in reference to the price and not the content. Could we all put away our little Huffy bikes now?

  41. Nick Gardner Says:

    I don’t know, I was contacted by AAA’s member services and marketing manager a few days ago and informed they were sending a complimentary copy of the dinosaur issue to me even though I’m not a member of any kind with AAA.

  42. Matt Wedel Says:

    That’s awesome–but for like the nineteenth time, our beef was never with the AAA, or the editorial staff of the journal, or with the authors who contributed to volume, or with their science. The beef has always been with Wiley, because their representatives told us that the issue would cost $575 for institutions, and that there were no plans to make it available otherwise. If they’d said, “We have no plans to make it available, but the AAA will send you a complimentary issue if you ask, and oh by the way the whole thing will be freely available online within the fortnight”, the tone of the post would have been radically different.

    I’m curious why they didn’t lead with that when they were contacted. I’m also very curious why, if special issues of AR are always OA, institutions should have to pay $575 for this one issue. I know the economics of scale work against academic publishers, but $575 covers a fair bit more than actual costs. It couldn’t be predatory pricing, could it? From a commercial publisher? Never!

  43. casey holliday Says:

    I think the issue is that Bt H, an anonymous DML poster, is the source of the 575$ quote. Did SVPOW chase that down/fact check/investigate? prior to posting?. i think if Anat Rec/AAA had been asked the same question early on, instead of Wiley (which seems out of touch, as it should being so large)…yeah things would be different, and words like dumb, and huffy bike (lol btw), wouldn’t have been thrown around. your resident lurking grump…Casey

  44. Mike Taylor Says:

    Woah, hold on! Are you saying that Bt H was lying? And do you have any, you know, evidence to back this up?

    Let’s be clear about this.

    Or are you saying that it is a mistake to contact a publisher about buying a copy of the work that they publish?

  45. Matt Wedel Says:

    Or, in a slightly more conciliatory tone (since this thread was finally cooling down), I agree that if someone had contacted the AAA we probably would have found out about the upcoming OAliciousness sooner. And no, none of us at SV-POW! were involved in the actual correspondence with Wiley. But the correspondence we saw looked legit, as in it had the names of people with actual positions in the company, and it sounded plausible. Also, we had no a priori reason to believe that the Wiley rep would be wrong about the pricing of the issue, and no reason to suspect that contacting the AAA would get a different answer.

    ANYWAY…IMHO it is high time we turned our energy from rehashing the pricing discussion (since the issue is priceless, in more than one way) to discussing all the cool papers.

  46. D. Schachne Says:

    Wiley would like to clarify that the Special Issue on Dinosaurs in The Anatomical Record (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117927936/grouphome/home.html?CRE) is in fact available free online, like all Special Issues of the AAA journals. The price for a print copy of the Issue is $40.00 (including postage) if you do not have a subscription. The information provided by our Customer Service team and posted to this blog by Mike Taylor (that the issue is $575) was incorrect. We apologize for this error. If you would like to order a copy of this Special Issue then please contact ar-specialissue@wiley.com.

    In addition to providing free access to the full text of special issues of the AAA journals, you may also like to know that all the content of The Anatomical Record is also made freely available 12 months after publication.

    If you have any further questions about The Anatomical Record or Wiley-Blackwell’s pricing or access policies then please contact us directly or visit http://www.interscience.wiley.com.

    Wiley-Blackwell Communications Team

  47. Mike Taylor Says:

    Many thanks, D. Schache, for the official word on this — good news indeed. We’ll make sure that it gets mentioned on the front page when we next post an new article.


  48. […] the good news and bad news about the all-dinosaurs special volume of The Anatomical Record?  Well, since we posted that, the […]

  49. Nick Gardner Says:

    I received my complimentary print copy in the mail yesterday. Nice glossy pages, very cool.

    :-)


  50. […] 21, 2010 Here at SV-POW! Towers, we have often lamented that so much dinosaur research is locked up behind the paywalls of big for-profit commercial publishers, and that even work that’s been funded by public […]


  51. […] 21, 2010 Here at SV-POW! Towers, we have often lamented that so much dinosaur research is locked up behind the paywalls of big for-profit commercial publishers, and that even work that’s been funded by public […]


  52. […] know I’ve mentioned this before [Choosing a Journal, Time for the Revolution] but there really is no justification at all for publishers to require authors to sign copyright […]


  53. […] of this will be news to long-time SV-POW! readers: we’ve talked more than once about the scandalous prices of academic publications and what can be done about it (and many relevant articles are linked from the Shiny Digital Future […]


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