June 17, 2013
I know I’ve written about this before, but Richard Poynder’s new post reminds me that we Brits really do need to be up in arms over the abject behaviour of our supposed representatives, the research councils (RCUK). As a direct result of this policy, the publisher Emerald has now introduced 24-month embargoes on RCUK-funded papers, where before it had none.
- Specifically stating that Open Access includes unrestricted use of manual and automated text and data mining tools; and unrestricted reuse of content with
- proper attribution.
- Requiring publication in journals that meet Research Council ‘standards’ for Open Access.
- No support for publisher embargoes of longer than six months from the date of publication (12 months for research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)).
Subsequent revisions of this policy have systematically removed all three of these policies: Green-OA papers may now be encumbered by commercial clauses, RCUK has said it will not enforce its journal standards, and the maximum six-month embargo for STM publication has quadrupled to 24 months.
As a matter of fact, it looks uncannily as though they read my comments and deliberately did the exact opposite. (No, I am not seriously suggesting that’s what happened. I’m not paranoid. What actually happened is less conspiracy-flavoured: I want what’s good for the world; publishers want what’s good for publishers, which is the opposite. They got what they wanted.)
How the hell did this happen?
The irony here is that the House of Lords select committee criticised RCUK for “lack of consultation” when in fact it had circulated its initial policy for comments. It was after this that RCUK threw out all its progressive promises without consultation — except, evidently, with the publishers to whom it so cravenly capitulated.
Where was the consultation on the 24-month embargoes now being exploited by “publishers” like Emerald? There was none: suddenly, from out of the blue, the Publishers Association’s “decision tree” appeared bearing the shameful legend “endorsed by BIS and RCUK”. On whose mandate? BIS and RCUK both exist to spend taxpayers’ money: when did taxpayers give their consent to quadrupling embargoes?
The whole thing makes me want to weep. By this stage in the proceedings, we expect barrier-based publishers to act against the interests of every other party. What we don’t expect it for our elected representatives to collude.
Could we at least have the courtesy of some kind of explanation for RCUK?
June 14, 2013
Here’s what Science Europe, an association of European research and funding organisations, said in their recent position statement Principles on the Transition to Open Access to Research Publications:
The Science Europe member organisations [...] stress that the hybrid model, as currently defined and implemented by publishers, is not a working and viable pathway to Open Access. Any model for transition to Open Access supported by Science Europe member organisations must prevent ‘double dipping’ and increase cost transparency.
The term “hybrid open access” refers to a subscription journal in which individual articles can optionally be made open access on payment of a fee — for the Big Four publishers, typically (though not always) in the region of $3000.
We’ve not said much about the hybrid model here on SV-POW!. A year ago, when we were discussing what society journals should do about open access, I wrote:
I also have an increasing sense that “hybrid OA” (i.e. a subscription journal with an optional open-access fee) doesn’t really work. Certainly Elsevier have had astonishingly low uptake, and there are good reasons for this. [...] I think that hybrid is really a bit of a fig-leaf that’s used by publishers and journals that don’t really want to do OA but feel they have to be seen to be doing something.
With the subsequent publication of the Finch report and the strong swing towards a Gold-OA economy, at least in the UK, it’s no longer fair to call hybrid OA a fig-leaf: even the most reactionary publishers are now positively embracing it as a revenue stream that can continue into the increasingly inevitable open-access future.
More recently, while considering what it costs to publish a Gold Open Access article, I wrote:
Why do people use hybrid journals when they are more expensive than fully OA journals and offer so much less (e.g. limited length, no colour, number of figures)? I suspect hybrid OA is the lazy option for researchers who have to conform to an OA mandate but don’t want to invest any time or effort in thinking about open-access options. It’s easy to imagine such researchers just shoving their work into in the traditional paywalled journal, and letting the Wellcome grant pick up the tab. After all, it’s Other People’s Money.
I think that’s still fair comment. Despite legacy publishers’ move towards embracing the hybrid-OA revenue stream, and their forced move towards true open-access licences for such articles, they continue to offer very bad value for money, and generally provide very little help in locating their open-access articles.
As an example of the latter, I have often wanted to find those Cretaceous Research articles that are open access, but never found a way to do it. Their web-site has an Advanced Search option (which searches across all Elsevier journals, not just Cretaceous Research) but that doesn’t seem to have any way to narrow to only open-access articles. Yesterday, PeerJ’s Alf Eaton found a way: start from the completely different Science Direct site, click on Advanced Search (up at top right), choose the Expert Search alternative, and enter SPONSOREDACCESSTYPE(unlimited OR delay) AND SRCTITLE(“Cretaceous Research”).
One is put in mind of this classic exchange from The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
Elsevier: But Mister Dent, the open-access papers have been available in the journal for the last nine months!
Arthur: Yes! I went round to find them yesterday afternoon. You’d hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to pull much attention to them have you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.
Elsevier: The papers were on display.
Arthur: They weren’t immediately obvious to the eye were they?
Elsevier: That depends where you were looking.
Arthur: I eventually had to go down to the cellar!
Elsevier: That’s the display department.
Arthur: With a torch!
Elsevier: The lights, had probably gone.
Arthur: So had the stairs!
Elsevier: Well you found the papers, didn’t you?
Arthur: Yes. They was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard”.
This isn’t mere whining about a badly designed web-site. It seems to me that such unconcern with the plight of users trying to find free content indicates a fundamental lack of interest in the openness of the articles: from the publisher’s perspective, Cretaceous Research is a subscription journal where merely happens to have a bit of of OA fringing around the edges.
By the way, Elsevier are not alone in this. Good luck finding the open-access articles in Palaeontology, published by Wiley; or in Paläontologische Zeitschrift, published by Springer; or in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, published by Taylor & Francis. It just isn’t something the publishers care about.
(In contrast, it’s pretty easy to narrow to open-access articles only when searching in a BMC or PLOS journal, or eLife, F1000 Research or PeerJ.)
Anyway, for these reasons and others, Science Europe is skeptical about hybrid OA — a skepticism that I share. Science Europe’s statement provoked Wiley’s Head of Society Relations, Alice Meadows, in a recent Scholarly Kitchen post:
Hybrid journals are a sustainable way of enabling researchers to publish in their journal(s) of choice while complying with funder requirements to make their articles available OA immediately on publication [...] Clearly, there are some legitimate concerns about “double dipping” (charging libraries for content where a fee has already been paid to make it available open access) [...] However, many publishers, including Wiley, have already developed or are developing solutions to this.
Here we come to maybe the gravest problem with hybrid OA: double dipping. If we take a look at what that Wiley document, Subscription Pricing for Hybrid Journals, says, the problem should be apparent:
We will adjust the variable portion of each title’s price (and of our collection as a whole) proportionately for any shift from subscription-funded articles to gold open access articles. We will calculate this adjustment using the most recent full calendar year data at the time we set prices, and will make available details of the numbers of articles published under each model.
What we have here is a complete lack of transparency. No-one knows how subscription prices are calculated in the first place; the obscure numbers are made wholly impenetrable by Big Deal bunding, so it’s literally impossible to know what a given journal costs; and non-disclosure agreements prevent customers from comparomg notes. Against such a backdrop, how can anyone possibly know whether and to what degree individual journal subscription fees are being reduced? (Knowing the number of OA articles is interesting, but not at all the same thing.)
In the complete absence of any actual data on pricing, all we can do is take it on trust from the publishers that they’re playing fair. And unfortunately, they have violated that trust repeatedly. There’s no trust left for the big legacy publishers. On the occasions when they do play fair, they have to show us that they’re playing fair. That means truly transparent pricing, which no-one believes we’re going to get any time soon.
Wiley’s statement goes on to spell out part of the problem:
Not all of the value or cost of a journal relates to the number of articles published. Titles incur fixed costs before we publish a single article [...] A portion of the subscription price is therefore fixed and not subject to adjustment for the shift to Gold OA articles.
This is saying that even if every single article in a journal was Gold OA, and had been paid for by an APC, Wiley would still charge a subscription fee for the journal. To me that seems both self-evidently absurd and wholly exploitative. APCs have to cover those fixed costs (“discovery and platform services, library interfaces, and the development and implementation of consistent standards”) at true open-access journals such as those of BMC and PLOS, so why shouldn’t they do so at hybrid journals?
What this says is that the APC is only part of the revenue that Wiley expects to derive from its open-access articles — in other words, that their true price is higher than the nominal $3000 OnlineOpen fee. They’re still hiding charges.
So there are plenty of reasons to mistrust the hybrid model. True open-access journals have a much simpler financial model, and are far more transparent. You can tell how much you’re paying, and you know exactly what you’re getting in return. (What’s more, you tend to pay much less and get rather more, but that is incidental.)
So I don’t think hybrid journals are the way to go. As Harvard said in their we-can’t-afford-our-subscriptions memo, that means we need to “move the prestige to open access”. Specifically, we need to move it to open-access journals, not band-aid open access on fundamentally subscription-mired journals.
I’m sure we all remember the White House OSTP’s recent memo on open access — a huge step forward that extends an NIH-like Green OA policy to all US federally funded research. It was a triumph for common sense, an explicit repudiation of the mindset behind the Research Works Act, and an affirmation for the ongoing FASTR legislation.
Yesterday, the publishers announced their response to this: an initiative named CHORUS (ClearingHouse for the Open Research of the United States), described most fully on the Scholarly Kitchen blog. The idea is that publishers themselves will make articles available open access after embargo periods have expired, and that they will provide a portal (they suggest chorus.gov) that links out to the various publishers’ green-OA papers. With this established, the publishers think the government can then dispose of PubMed Central.
I commented on the Scholarly Kitchen post:
This does look potentially positive, though I think there is a big trust gap to be bridged before researchers, librarians and indeed the government will be happy entrusting all this to the very publishers who up till now have made themselves roadblocks in the path of all such initiatives.
And then in response to a comment by David Wojick:
“where the industry keeps the eyeballs by meeting the Federal needs, provided the latter are reasonable.”
That’s the kicker. Those of us who remember PRISM, the RWA and the Georgia lawsuit are not predisposed to imagine that publishers’ notions of what is “reasonable” will coincide with ours. To pick one obvious example, I’m pretty confident that the OSTP’s 12-month embargo periods will quickly become 24 or 48.
I think publishers have a lot of bridge-building to do before librarians and researchers will trust them with something as important as a PMC replacement, and the CHORUS proposal has come too soon for that to have happened.
Other opinions were not slow to appear.
Jonathan Eisen wrote one of those posts whose title tells you much of what you need to know: I am highly skeptical of the CHORUS system proposed by scientific publishers as an end run around PubMed Central. He gives the example of Nature Publishing Group’s repeated failures to keep to its own policy of making genome papers freely available.
PLOS co-founder Michael Eisen (Jonathan’s brother) offered A CHORUS of boos: publishers offer their “solution” to public access. He points out that the Association of American Publishers (AAP), who are behind this proposal, ”have been, and continue to be, the most vocal opponent of public access policies. They have been trying for years to roll back the NIH’s Public Access Policy and to defeat any and all efforts to launch new public access policies at the federal and state levels. And CHORUS does not reflect a change of heart on their part – just last month they filed a lengthy (and incredibly deceptive) brief opposing a bill in the California Assembly would provide public access to state funded research.” Skepticism about their motives is understandable.
PeerJ co-founder Jason Hoyt wrote CHORUS: It’s actually spelled C-A-B-A-L, which begins be asking questions about the financial cost before making the crucial point that “more concerning is the cost of giving control of Open Access content to organizations whose business model is counter to the principles of OA“. He asks: “Are these APIs truly open? What happens if I decide to build an aggregator with this content that is supposed to be Open Access? Will I be restricted or charged for high volume access, because publishers are now losing eyeballs as researchers go to my aggregator search engine?”
Finally, pseudonymous academic librarian The Library Loon gave us a post entitled CHORUS: hoping for re-enclosure. I find the Loon’s habit of referring to herself in the third person an irritating affectation, but she is an informed and astute commentator, always worth listening to. She makes the important point that “control of the infrastructure on which open-access copies reside is important for more than immediate financial reasons, and it’s what the publishers are playing for here. Infrastructure that publishers control is vastly easier to re-enclose.“
But maybe my favourite commentary on CHORUS is five short words from a tweet by Heather Morrison:
Public access needs public stewardship.
That’s the issue in a nutshell
I’ve been really struggling to find anyone with a good word to say about CHORUS who does not work for a barrier-based publisher. Here are a few selections of the comments I’ve seen:
Heather Piwowar (@researchremix) June 05, 2013
Ethan White (@ethanwhite) June 05, 2013
.@emckiernan13 So instead of having papers in 1 place, we get redirected to different publishers so they can show us advertisements. Great.—
Justin B. Kinney (@jbkinney) June 05, 2013
Erin McKiernan (@emckiernan13) June 05, 2013
Given the one-sidedness of my tweet-stream, I asked for dissenting views:
Mike Taylor (@MikeTaylor) June 05, 2013
But they were not forthcoming:
Erin McKiernan (@emckiernan13) June 05, 2013
I’m afraid it’s still the case that no-one outside of traditional publishing (i.e. the vested interests) seem to have a remotely positive perspective on CHORUS. It’s perceived as at best irrelevant, and at worst a land-grab.
May 11, 2013
As part of the progressive erosion of RCUK’s initially excellent open-access policy, barrier-based publishers somehow got them to accept their “open-access decision tree“, which you can now find on page 7 of the toothless current version of the policy. The purpose of this manoeuvre by the Publishers Association is to lend an air of legitimacy to continuing to deny citizens access to the research they funded for up to 24 months after publication. It’s to the House of Lords’ enduring shame that they swallowed this, when they must know that there is no justification for embargoes of any length.
More recently, as commentary on the Australian Research Council’s open access policy, the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) published its own rather better decision tree.
But it still doesn’t go nearly far enough. So here is the SV-POW! decision tree, which we encourage you to print out and hang on your office door.
… and don’t forget, when depositing your peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts in a repository, to specify that they are made available under the CC BY licence, which most benefits the field as a whole.
Jeffrey Beall’s fatuous pronouncement that The Serials Crisis is Over has been nagging away at me since it was posted yesterday. I admit my first reaction was that it was some kind of parody or satire, but Beall’s subsequent comments seem to rule out that charitable interpretation.
I’m pleased to see that the comments on that post have shared my bafflement: Karen Coyle cited Walt Crawford’s new book, The Big Deal and the Damage Done; and an important comment by Joe Kraus of the University of Denver cites a BMJ editorial, wunkderkind Jack Andraka and the Who Needs Access? site [disclosure: which I helped build]. So far no-one’s mentioned that Harvard can’t afford its subscriptions – or maybe they have but the comment was silently moderated into oblivion, as has happened with three separate comments that I posted there.
(It is of course because my comments have been repeatedly censored that I’ve given up trying to contribute to the original post’s comment thread, and am writing this instead. I can promise anyone who wants to comment here, Beall included, that we allow all comments except spam and direct repeated personal attacks.)
Beall’s response to Joe Kraus’s comment was simply an attack on the university that he works for — an attack that Joe took rather graciously. But what about all the other people that he mentions? It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the lines are as follows: those who say that the serial crisis is over are the hugely profitable incumbents; those who say it is not are scholars, librarians, editor, doctors, students, and in fact every single group that doesn’t stand to gain financially from the continuation of the status quo. Doesn’t that look just a tiny bit suspicious? (I asked Beall this: that was one of the comments that was censored.)
But leave all that aside. The part that I really want to comment on is this, from the original article:
I declare that the serials crisis, the event that gave birth to the open-access movement, is over. I base my declaration on my observations as an academic librarian and on the scholarly literature, selections from which I include here:
“Publishers, through the oft-reviled “Big Deal” packages, are providing much greater and more egalitarian access to the journal literature, an approximation to true Open Access.”
That quote is from Odlyzko (2013), “Open Access, library and publisher competition, and the evolution of general commerce”, which is freely available on arXiv. So let’s look at the whole abstract that Beall quoted from so we can see the context of the quote that he used. (My emphasis added.)
Discussions of the economics of scholarly communication are usually devoted to Open Access, rising journal prices, publisher profits, and boycotts. That ignores what seems a much more important development in this market. Publishers, through the oft-reviled “Big Deal” packages, are providing much greater and more egalitarian access to the journal literature, an approximation to true Open Access. In the process they are also marginalizing libraries, and obtaining a greater share of the resources going into scholarly communication. This is enabling a continuation of publisher profits as well as of what for decades has been called “unsustainable journal price escalation“. It is also inhibiting the spread of Open Access, and potentially leading to an oligopoly of publishers controlling distribution through large-scale licensing.
The “Big Deal” practices are worth studying for several general reasons. The degree to which publishers succeed in diminishing the role of libraries may be an indicator of the degree and speed at which universities transform themselves. More importantly, these “Big Deals” appear to point the way to the future of the whole economy, where progress is characterized by declining privacy, increasing price discrimination, increasing opaqueness in pricing, increasing reliance on low-paid or upaid work of others for profits, and business models that depend on customer inertia.
It could not be clearer that this paper is not evidence for Beall’s assertion that the serials crisis is over — on the contrary, it argues that things are worse than ever and getting worse.
This is a classic example of quote mining.
I’m afraid that at this point in the development of his site, Beall is looking less and less like someone offering a helpful service to researchers looking for open-access venues; and more and more like a troll.
May 8, 2013
I was reading an article recently about crowd-funded startups. One of the featured startups aims to make divorce more painless. That started me thinking about divorce lawyers. Their web-sites say they will “guide you as painlessly as possible through the jungle of legal rules and practices” and “have not only your best interests in mind, but also that of any children who may be involved“. And I’m sure that’s true of all the individuals that work at such firms. I’m sure they do genuinely good work and mitigate some of the appalling pain of a divorce.
And yet. For these firms to succeed, they need marriages to fail. From the perspective of the company (not the people in it), a successful marriage is a missed business opportunity. What a terrible, conflicted, position to be in. It must be hard to work for a company like that.
And then I thought about traditional, paywall-based scholarly publishers. Their web-sites say things like “We have a passion for digital distribution“, that they have an “objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide“, and that their purpose is “to further the [...] objective of advancing learning, knowledge and research“. I’m sure that’s true of all the individuals that work at the company. I’m sure they do genuinely good work and want to make research available wherever possible.
And yet. For those firms to succeed, they need universities, libraries, doctors, nurses, teachers and others not to be able to freely access published research. From the perspective of the company (not the people in it), a shared paper is a missed business opportunity. What a terrible, conflicted, position to be in. It must be hard to work for a company like that.
This isn’t hypothetical. The three publishers whose self-descriptions I quoted above are Taylor and Francis (“passion for digital distribution”), Oxford University Press (“education by publishing worldwide”) and Cambridge University Press (“advancing learning, knowledge and research”). The very same three publishers who are currently suing Delhi University for photocopying excerpts of their textbooks.
Now leave aside whether or not the law is on the publishers’ or the educators’ side in this dispute. The issue is this. The publishers’ business model forces them to act in a way directly opposed to their mission. What they are doing in Delhi, if they are successful will prevent T&F’s goal of digital distribution; it will prevent OUP’s mission of education worldwide; and it will prevent CUP’s objective of advancing learning.
When I met Alicia Wise back in September last year, and we chatted over lunch, I think she was a bit surprised at my insistence that all paywalls on research have to come down. I don’t want to put words in her mouth (and I hope she’ll correct me if I misinterpreted) but it seemed to me that she expected to be able to meet me half way — that I would be in favour, for example, of a scheme that allowed much cheaper access to paywalled material.
In that chat over lunch, I don’t think I did a very good of articulating why I am so implacable on this. But this is the reason. As soon as a publisher has a paywall, its mission and its business are in conflict. A paywall-based publisher cannot both advance its mission and preserve its revenue.
There are only two ways for paywall-based publishers get rid of this dissonance. Either they have to give up all pretence of being about education; or they have to give up paywalls and adopt a business model that is in alignment with their stated mission. Until they do one or the other, the baked-in hypocrisy will continue. It’s inevitable. It’s fundamental to what these organisations are.
April 29, 2013
But the most recent and troubling predatory-publisher story I’ve read is about a lawsuit. No, not the Edwin Mellen Press libel suit. Three publishers are suing Delhi University for selling course packs to students that use excerpts from their textbooks.
This lawsuit despite the facts that (A) Indian copyright law has an exception for educational exercise; (B) the course packs don’t affect publisher revenue because there is no way Indian students can afford the books; and (C) Thirty-three of the authors specifically named as meriting protection in the publishers’ petition have publicly stated that they want no part in the suit, telling them “it is unfortunate that you would choose to alienate teachers and students who are indeed your main readers”.
You can read the whole article at Firstpost India: Not in our name: Academics oppose publishers, support photocopying. Pretty vile behavior there by the publishers, who apparently consider maintaining total control more important than education in a developing country that desperately needs it.
The truly horrifying part of this is that the case was filed by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis — three publishers who we’ve been used to thinking of as reputable, and who want researchers to think of them as trusted partners.
But they’re not, are they?
This is not an isolated example. It’s just one more example of how academic publishers have made themselves the enemies of science, of education and of progress in general. And yes, I do understand that publishers are unhappy to be characterised in this way, but but but …
Dear publishers: if you don’t want to be called enemies of science, stop being enemies of science.
Seriously. This isn’t complicated. For decades you’ve been able to get away with whatever crapulent manoeuvres you’ve wanted to pull, and we’ve not been connected enough to do anything about it — or even know about it, most of the time. But those days are over. The world is connected. When you act like jerks, we will call you on it.
So just stop acting like jerks. Number one on the agenda: stop suing your customers.
April 15, 2013
I think the most painful part of the Elsevier-eats-Mendeley deal has been watching good people acting as apologists for Elsevier and then feeling hurt when people don’t accept their protestations. You can see a good example (but far from the only one) in the comments to Danah Boyd’s post on her #mendelete.
I don’t know what what Elsevier have been feeding their new minions, but whatever it is it seems to be working. They seem to have swallowed the party line uncritically. Yes, Elsevier have been making nice statements about what their intentions are with respect to Mendeley. They are exactly the sort of statements you’d expect them to make. And there is not one whit of a reason why anyone should believe them. Time and again, Elsevier have shown that the truth is just another tool for them, to be used when it’s useful and discarded when it’s not. (Fake journals, bribing reviewers, equating open access with lack of peer-review, the list goes on.)
Who will bet that Elsevier aren’t at least involved in, if not the prime movers behind, the New York Times’s recent open-access slander? It’s 100% in keeping with the Dezenhall strategy and the history of the PRISM Coalition (“scientific censorship” indeed).
The only question here is why the Mendeley folks seem so convinced that this time will be different, this time Elsevier really have changed, they really do have our best interests at heart.
Really, Mendeley people? Really?
Now look. We all understand that Mendeley was always a commercial operation. It was always a for-profit, and it was started not only to advance OA but also to make money for its founders and investors. There’s nothing wrong with that. And Mendeley did some great pro-OA work before its acquisition. The founders and investors deserve their pay-day, and good luck to them. But Mendeley, the Elsevier subsidiary, is dead to me, and should be to anyone else who is about openness. Mendeley did some good work, and now that’s finished.
You can’t have your cake and eat it, Mendeley people.
So in his comments on the Dana Boyd article, William Gunn rightly points out that “We participated in the SOPA/RWA blackout, we wrote comments to the OSTP, we campaigned vigorously for the wh.gov petition”. All true, and all commendable. It’s great that the old Mendeley did all that stuff. But anyone who believes that the Elsevier subsidiary Mendeley is going to do these things is sadly mistaken.
Update (eight hours later)
Let me be 100% clear that I am not saying any of the Mendeley people are lying. I think they genuinely believe the stories that Elsevier have told them. And I think they are dead wrong, just as Celebrimbor and the elves of Eregion were when they believed that Sauron, in his fair guise as Annatar, had repented of his history as lieutenant to Morgoth Bauglir the oppressor. All I’m saying is, don’t come running to me when you find that those pretty rings you’re forging with Elsevier’s counsel turn out to be under the command of the One Ring, and a Second Darkness covers the land.
April 12, 2013
Yesterday I was in Oxford for the Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science conference (web-site here, tweets here though they also include newer ones from Day 2 which is happening as I write this).
There was a lot to enjoy about the day, including meeting Cameron Neylon of PLOS and Jason Hoyt of PeerJ, both for the first time. The highlight for me, unsurprisingly, was the debate at the Oxford Union in the evening, of which more in following posts.
Another highlight was meeting my anti-particle — the pro-Elsevier Mike Taylor. There are quite a few odd coincidences linking him and me, and he has been using us both as a motivating example of the need for ORCID: skip to 5:50 in this video for an example.
There was some speculation that if we ever met, we’d both be annihilated in a burst of pure energy, but happily there were no fireworks.
Apart from a brief fist-fight.
Other Mike Taylor (hereafter OMT) had some interesting things to say about Elsevier, but I won’t pass them on without his permission. Maybe he’ll drop by here and comment.
By the way, I think this was the second time I have worn a tie in the last decade or so.
There’s an awful lot of talk about “predatory open access publishers” recently. So much talk that I can’t help wondering whether the phrase is being pushed by barrier-based publishers in another attempt to smear open access. (Hey, they have previous.)
Anyway, for anyone who is worried that they might be tricked into giving their work to one of these low-quality predatory publishers that accepts anything and only cares about the fee, here is my guide to avoiding this scenario.
So. Imagine you have an article ready to go, when you receive an invitation to submit it to a journal that you’ve never heard of before. How do you decide whether to send it to them?
Do not send it to them.