Gene Expression

Open access the people say!

Apropos of this week’s Ask a Science Blogger, AMERICANS SUPPORT FREE ACCESS TO RESEARCH. Not that their opinion matters!


  1. #1 Rob Knop
    May 31, 2006

    Well, I haven’t read more than the first two setentences of what you linked to (lazy me), but I’ll fully agree with that much. In my field, we’re pretty close to that; you have to have an electronic subscription to a journal to get the latest journal articles, but they are all free (as in beer) after a few years– and, in any event, most people in my field upload preprints to at the same time papers are accepted, and that is always free (as in beer).

    I wouldn’t object to some requirement that all research get published under some sort of Creative Commons licence. It *was* federally funded, after all…. But, more than that, the point of science is to increase humankind’s knowledge about the Universe, and if that knowledge is locked behind copyrights and proprietary agreements, then humankind isn’t being given the full opportunity to be enlightened.

    Of course, I’m not in a field where I would have a hope of getting a patent and striking it rich, so all of that is easy for me to say. But, still.


  2. #2 Roman Werpachowski
    May 31, 2006

    Of course, I’m not in a field where I would have a hope of getting a patent and striking it rich, so all of that is easy for me to say.

    It shouldn’t be that easy to patent a scientific discovery as it is.

  3. #3 Agnostic
    May 31, 2006

    Antagonistic people, whether Left or Right, are pretty well represented in the science world — they should just threaten a general strike, shut down the useless publishers for a month or two. During that time, the unpaid referees & reviewers continue doing their unpaid work, while someone sets up a basic website like PLoS — doesn’t have to be flashy, very basic. The reviewers / referees move their stuff to these new servers, and presto: free access, no publishing weasels.

    Hasta la victoria siempre!

  4. #4 Rietzsche Boknekht
    May 31, 2006

    if tax dollars pay for scientific research, people should have free access to the results of the research on the internet.

    Well, I guess it sounds only fair that the results of the publicly funded be available to the collective. The problem is, how are we going to get people to be statisticians, because that’s what people will essentially need to be to know how to interpret scientific papers correctly — i.e., know whether probabilities & correlations are significant or not; weigh evidence objectively, etc. IMO, we already have, & have had, open access — i.e. libraries, MEDLINE abstracts — which often contain a reasonable amount of data etc. There’s also alot of non-PC stuff that can be found with little difficulty. We have people, who seem more interested in perpetrating Ad Hominem attacks against those with whom they disagree than in the meaning of statistical correlations, who deny & denounce Jensen, Rushton, & Herrnstein as *Pseudo-Scientific Racists*, completely ignoring or denying that correlation coefficients, probabilities or evidence from other sources have any validity. Are these people truly stupid, or just blind with emotional/political bias? I could be swiftly assassinated, yes, *assassinated*, for spouting quotes from some of the literature that is currently open access.
    I dunno. IMO, as is the case currently, it’ll be largely the informed, evenminded, & relatively high g who’ll benefit the most from completely open access. They won’t see their tax money as wasted, because they’ll understand the research.

    Sorry I didn’t address the academic side of the coin, but I really don’t know much about editing/peer review processes. :)

  5. #5 Dan Dare
    June 1, 2006

    Arxiv is one of the things that makes life worth living for anyone with an interest in physics. That and EurekAlert for general news. I suppose if you are a professional you will have regular access to a research library. I cannot imagine not being able to satisfy my addiction. Being a frustrated science-junkie is one of the most pitiful conditions known to man.

    Before the Web (Wow…was there ever such a time? Is that what they mean by “the stone age” grandpa?), I used to spend thousands every year on private access to journals.

    But really folks, I have tried to promote this before, but we do need to get behind this project.