Pay-walling science you already bought

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Private academic publishers must die!

Hunter thinks Chris Dodd and the Motion Picture Association of America are corporate parasites for trying to shut-down the internet.  And he’s right, but they are not the only corporate parasites in town these days infringing on the public welfare.  Basically, big scientific publishers want government to pay-wall all publicly-funded scientific research.  

The Research Works Act’s complete bullshit title runs thusly,

“To ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-reviewed research works by the private sector.” -H.R. 3699[1]

but should more accurately be entitled,

“To ensure extraction of utterly parasitic publisher’s profits completely at taxpayer expense, while strip-mining knowledge from the world and causing needless, heedless damage to the public’s health and welfare in order to profit, profit, profit a few private individuals.”

Thanks for selling us our research, you blood-sucking, segmented worms.

Let’s be clear: The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation use tax-payer money to fund the vast amount scientific and medical research done in this country.  That research belongs to you and me.  Period.  It’s a public good paid for with public money, but now the big publishers, like Elsevier and their publishers’ associations, want to shoe-horn themselves into gatekeeper position to siphon-off all the value.  

Despite NIH’s open Public Access Policy, burdensome embargoes and numerous other gateways to access are already erected against those unaffiliated with universities; and private publishers charge extravagant subscription fees to university libraries, and outrageous $30.00 to $75.00 download fees (per article!)  to those without subscriptions.  Frankly, we don’t even need the private publishing bastards.  AT ALL.  Publicly-paid scientists can publish in house, a helluva lot more cheaply.   Software is dirt-cheap.

Half the grant money goes to administrative overhead to begin with (including paying outrageous subscription prices and un-mentionable salaries for Big U Cheezes).  A few copy-editors for galleys and some mechanism of electronic distribution and local printing will eliminate any need for private publishers entirely.  Everything else is already done by the scientists themselves: The actual research, writing, graphics, the entire peer-review process, editorial boards, etc.   It’s mostly self-organized over phone and e-mail, anyway.  It’s all done FOR FREE, or at least the same humble salaries already being paid for by the public.

All the greedy private publishers do is insert themselves in the middle of the process, act as distributors, and siphon off the profits.  We don’t need no steenking private publishers or their glossy steenking prestigious journals.  Only the prestige of the scientist, the lab, and school matter, as there do exist levels of expertise; some opinions are weightier than others; but the private publishers themselves are virtually entirely superfluous to that process: they couldn’t do peer review, even if they wanted to.  If you want gloss, hire a graphic designer at a negligible fraction of the cost of “publication.”  Be a “job creator” for someone who actually does something.  

Already the pharmaceutical giants can basically get the vast majority of their R&D done for free (at your expense!), and then charge you out your rear-end for drugs.  It’s sick.  Now the publishing leeches are crying like the Wall Street infants, saying they just want to “prevent regulatory interference with private-sector research publishers.”  They want to reverse NIH’s open-access policy, entirely, even in it’s current emaciated form.  Contrast the publisher’s “business model” with, say, paying those large dollars for a sweet-ass confocal microscope, which you or your institution now use and own into perpetuity, and just say, “Thanks!” to the actual optics-makers.  “That’s a sweet-ass microscope!”  Money is in short-enough supply these days, and it’s getting shorter.  Yank the damned publishers’ blood funnel out of your faces.

Private scientific publishing is just another vast extraction scheme, and “an ethical disaster.”  Just say, “No, no, no.”

Resign from the Association of American Publishers.  Cancel your dues.  Send hate-mail to the Copyright Alliance.

Why do Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) want to ship our taxpayer money to overseas publishers, anyway?  Why do they want to overturn NIH policy?  Why do they want to make you pay for the results of the research you already paid for?  Bull.  Shit.

I literally can no longer download my own publications, and I (and other tax-paying researchers) did all the work except for the gatekeeping.  Bull.  Shit.  That’s our fucking money!  That’s our work!  All of it!

Now, suppose some editor asks me to review some work in an area where there are not a shitload of experts to choose from.  I accepted my most recent invitation to review, because I was the person who most recently owned that field, ploughed all the new ground, but as time wears on with denial of access, I can no longer be certain that I know where things stand, and I’ll just stop accepting the work from here on out.  It’s like Muller’s ratchet: you just keep losing the buttons on your shirt, except the mutagenic forces are yanking them off for re-sale elsewhere.  America, you are being strip-mined, but who really cares, since the over-all fucked-ness is now baked-into the political and economic crockery.

1 comment

  1. I wish that character, “indeterinate cutlery” were still around.

    Best wishes to him and his family.

Comments have been disabled.