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Paywall for science articles, yes or no?

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What’s hot? What’s not?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

Science funders are now getting into the act: Why should people have to pay to read science that has been funded?:

This new initiative, dubbed Plan S, mandates that starting in 2020, academics receiving grants from participating agencies—which include funders in the UK, France, and the Netherlands—must make all scientific articles open access immediately upon publication. The coalition also outlines 10 key principles, such as commitments from funders to help cover publication fees, provide incentives to establish quality open-access journals and publishing platforms, and a promise to sanction those who do not comply with the new rules. Since September, two additional national funders and three charitable foundations—the Wellcome Trust in the UK, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the US, and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond in Sweden—have joined the coalition.

Overdue. But note:

In early November, more than 600 researchers signed a different open letter—this one criticizing the plan for being “unfair for scientists” and “too risky for science in general.” The letter states that Plan S is a “serious violation of academic freedom,” and outlined several specific problems the academics have with the plan, including a ban on many valuable journals, the possible risk to international collaboration if funders in others parts of the world did not adopt a similar policy, and the potential for the cost of scholarly dissemination to increase under a model focused on “gold” open access, in which authors pay article processing charges (APCs)—sometimes in the thousands of dollars—for individual papers.Diana Kwon, “Plan S: The Ambitious Initiative to End the Reign of Paywalls” at The Scientist

It’s hard to see why all these problems cannot be addressed without limiting public access. Simply include foreseen/foreseeable costs while fundraising. If we know it will cost $1500 to process something, it’s a line item in our budget. If we think our research won’t get published anyway and therefore publishing costs shouldn’t be a line item in the budget, why are we doing the research?

File under: Change long overdue

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See also: Surprise: Science thrives when people can admit they didn’t prove something

What can a huge retractions database teach us? Overall, improved vigilance has slowed the trend, but key problems remain, including manipulated images. If a picture is worth a thousand words, that’s about three to five paragraphs of falsehood.

4 Replies to “Paywall for science articles, yes or no?

  1. 1
    ET says:

    They could charge much less. And what they lose on each sale would be made up by the volume of sales

  2. 2
    Ed George says:

    In an ideal world they woul all be open access. But who pays for it? Most journals have an option to pay to have their paper open access. The most recent paper I published would have cost over $3000 to do so. But if you email the author they will usually email you a copy. As well, many journals provide a link to authors that they are encourage to disseminate widely; the link is to a read only copy of their paper. With a minimal of effort, pay-walls rarely prevent someone from reading the paper at no cost.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    There is also an open source textbook initiative: https://openstax.org/

  4. 4
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Why should people have to pay to read science that has been funded?

    The actual question is: Why should people pay (again) for research that THEY THEMSELVES have funded?

    There’s no reason why they should …

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