August 31, 2016
As explained in careful detail over at Stupid Patent of the Month, Elsevier has applied for, and been granted, a patent for online peer-review. The special sauce that persuaded the US Patent Office that this is a new invention is cascading peer review — an idea so obvious and so well-established that even The Scholarly Kitchen was writing about it as a commonplace in 2010.
Well. What can this mean?
A cynic might think that this is the first step an untrustworthy company would take preparatory to filing a lot of time-wasting and resource-sapping nuisance lawsuits on its smaller, faster-moving competitors. They certainly have previous in the courts: remember that they have brought legal action their own customers as well as threatening Academia.edu and of course trying to take Sci-Hub down.
Elsevier representatives are talking this down: Tom Reller has tweeted “There is no need for concern regarding the patent. It’s simply meant to protect our own proprietary waterfall system from being copied” — which would be fine, had their proprietary waterfall system not been itself copied from the ample prior art. Similarly, Alicia Wise has said on a public mailing list “People appear to be suggesting that we patented online peer review in an attempt to own it. No, we just patented our own novel systems.” Well. Let’s hope.
But Cathy Wojewodzki, on the same list, asked the key question:
I guess our real question is Why did you patent this? What is it you hope to market or control?
We await a meaningful answer.
Just posting a few images from my impending talk at SVPCA this Thursday.
I’ve written about the recurrent laryngeal nerve before, in Wedel (2012) and in this post. It’s present in all tetrapods, from frogs and salamanders on up. The frog RLN is shown in ventral view above, and in lateral view below, both from Ecker (1889:plate 1, figures 114 and 115). I’ve highlighted the RLN in red in both. Perhaps not a monument of inefficiency, but still recurrent, and therefore dumb.
And in a giraffe – RLN in blue, nerve path to hindfoot phalanges in red. Hollow circles are nerve cell bodies, solid lines are axons.
And in the elasmosaur Hydrotherosaurus, same color scheme plus the nerve path to the tail in purple, base image from Welles (1943).
That’s all for now!
- Ecker, A. 1889. The Anatomy of the Frog. 478pp. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
- Wedel, M. J. 2012. A monument of inefficiency: The presumed course of the recurrent laryngeal nerve in sauropod dinosaurs. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 57 (2): 251–256.
- Welles, S. P. 1943. Elasmosaurid plesiosaurs with descriptions of new material from California and Colorado. Memoirs of the University of California Museum of Paleontology 13: 125-254.
Long time readers may remember the stupid contortions I had to go through in order to avoid giving the Geological Society copyright in my 2010 paper about the history of sauropod research, and how the Geol. Soc. nevertheless included a fraudulent claim of copyright ownership in the published version.
The way I left it back in 2010, my wife, Fiona, was the copyright holder. I should have fixed this a while back, but I now note for the record that she has this morning assigned copyright back to me:
From: Fiona Taylor <REDACTED>
To: Mike Taylor <email@example.com>
Date: 15 August 2016 at 11:03
I, Fiona J. Taylor of Oakleigh Farm House, Crooked End, Ruardean, GL17 9XF, England, hereby transfer to you, Michael P. Taylor of Oakleigh Farm House, Crooked End, Ruardean, GL17 9XF, England, the copyright of your article “Sauropod dinosaur research: a historical review”. This email constitutes a legally binding transfer.
Sorry to post something so boring, after so long a gap (nearly a month!) Hopefully we’ll have some more interesting things to say — and some time to say them — soon!