Cameron Neylon, David Roberts and I have written a blog post with preliminary analysis. There are some interesting (I think) observations.
In recent discussions, an editor-in-chief of an Elsevier journal made the assertion that there is no point in going through the hassle of switching to an open access publishing option, because authors are allowed to post the final accepted version (“postprint”) publicly, for example at arXiv.org.
Ignoring the rather cavalier attitude to readers (what if the author doesn’t bother to do it?) and the tacit admission that journals serve no real purpose other than (possible) post-publication peer review improvements and giving a 0-1 quality stamp, let us focus on the authors.
After all the hard work involved in writing and paper and having it accepted, few authors relish the extra work involved in ensuring that the readership of the paper is maximized. But this is a very small amount of work in comparison to the total for the project. Uploading to arXiv takes only a few minutes, and there are plenty of other venues with similarly low overhead (institutional repositories, sites like ResearchGate (if ethically acceptable to the author), and other subject repositories). Even putting the postprint on a personal webpage is better than nothing.
Yet despite the ease of making their work available, a large fraction of authors simply don’t do it. In 2011 Kristine Fowler surveyed mathematicians’ views on various issues (the linked article is well worth reading) and found that only about half of authors practise self-archiving (some publish in open access journals but this is relatively rare). She lists several other barriers to self-archiving found in previous studies: lack of time, not regarding it as an important dissemination venue, concerns about copyright, publishers’ attitudes, the quality of the archive, inadvertent changes to the work, and the deposit procedure.
Fowler’s survey also discusses author rights. The results are remarkable to me, two striking quotes being:
Several open-ended comments indicate that some mathematicians do not know or do not care about author rights issues: “I don’t usually think much about this aspect of publishing” and “I have to say that I generally just ignore any associated author rights and do what I like with my paper.”
… only 16% of mathematics authors (91 respondents) report having tried to improve the terms of publication, whereas most have signed a publisher-provided author agreement, either before (27%) or after (59%) reading it (participants could report more than one action). Among those who have negotiated with publishers to retain more author rights, 92% report they are usually or always successful.
So: my working hypothesis is that a sadly large fraction of my colleagues just don’t think it is important to ensure that their work is available to read, use excuses for inaction, and are happy to live up to the stereotype of the unworldly academic. For me, this is unacceptable.
I am running a survey (via Google Forms) on behalf of an international group of researchers and librarians interested in improving overall performance of the publication system in mathematics and other subjects. Its results will be made public later this year. We aim to get responses from a large and representative sample of the world mathematical community. The results will be used to focus efforts on improvements that have borad community support. As far as I know nothing like this has been tried before. Some commercial publishers have undertaken author surveys on open access, but our survey is much more.
The survey (for editors, referees, authors, readers on mathematical journals) can be accessed at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1r4LBUJk1VF9e4Dl4aXgS4fW-O8HR9yz1cqmXdzz0CjM/viewform?c=0&w=1&usp=mail_form_link. Google login is required for authentication and to safeguard data integrity, but no personal data will be stored.
Today marks the end of an expensive and rewarding 5-week visit to Los Angeles. Most of it was vacation. We experienced some excellent museums (Petersen Automotive, Getty Center, La Brea Tar Pits) and the Santa Monica caught up with some old friends and colleagues, and spent a lot of time with many relatives. As expected, there was a lot of driving and eating, and not a lot of exercise. Weather was excellent, around 16-20C most days and with a lot of sunshine, and smog much less than I had expected. In the end we forwent the delights of the big theme parks, couldn’t stomach the crowds around the Chinese Theatre, and missed out on being part of the audience for a TV show recording.
I did manage to do a small amount of professional work: a talk at UCLA (in Igor Pak’s Combinatorics seminar, my first ever visit to the campus – it looks like a wonderful place, and I ran into Terry Tao in the line for lunch!) and my first ever discussant appearance, at a very interesting political science workshop in Laguna Beach organized by Bernie Grofman. Overall this has been the longest break from work I can remember, and it’s time to start serious research and teaching for 2016.
I can’t do better than point you to a short list of readings by a very prominent OA advocate, Peter Suber.
In June and September I attended two contrasting political science conferences on the West Coast of the USA. PolNet 2015 was small (of the order of 100 attendees) and focused on political networks. APSA 2015 was huge (about 7000 attendees), covering all areas of the field, with many business meetings and other professional activities in addition to research talks. Both were very well organized and had unusually good food available. These trips were very tiring physically, but very stimulating intellectually.
- according to Skyler Cranmer, statistical inference on survey data usually makes an assumption of independence, which makes no sense for networks, and he found 700 published papers making this methodological error
- David Lazer (and many collaborators) Moneybomb video
- Kathleen Carley: 25-50% of tweeters are not human – biased data for social scientists!
- really useful introductory tutorials by Skyler Cranmer, Lorien Jasny, Katherine Ognyanova, Scott Pauls
- plenary talk by Robert Reich – in addition to the main substance, the anecdotes were very entertaining, especially his interview by a journalist askingabout a date he went on with Hillary Clinton about 50 years ago
- British Election Forecasting session – interesting to see how so many different predictions were all so wrong, and concerns about “forecaster herding”
- political networks session where several people agreed that it is a fad, but that is OK because it gives good results
- APSA business meeting into which I was press-ganged in order to make a quorum. It seems that elections use Australian House of Representatives rules. The quorum was lost partway through, and a complaint made … The political scientists can sure talk!
- talk by Carey, Masoud and Reynolds showing how close Tunisia came to failing like Libya and Egypt (small differences in the voting rules used)
- Alex Montgomery’s favourite international organization is the African GroundNut Council
- many other interesting topics: why is there no right-wing party in many countries? ; effect of preferential voting on representation of minorities; poll herding hypothesis – low quality pollsters adjust results to match high quality ones; how can polarization be measured?
Here is a list of references that may be useful when considering barriers to open access.
- B.C. Bjork on Open Access – are the barriers to change receding?
- 2014 survey of Canadian Researchers’ Publishing Attitudes and Behaviours
- 2014 Taylor and Francis author survey
- 2015 NPG/Palgrave Macmillan author survey
- Registry of Open Access Mandates
- UNESCO Open Access Strategy
- Richard Poynder on The Big Deal: Not Price But Cost
I have been following several issues in the world of academia and science over the last few years, all of which require urgent and serious attention, in my opinion. Progress has been less than I hoped, but it makes sense that inertia is large in such a system.
I collect here a list of important and interesting links, and hope they are useful for others.
- Scientific Utopia I and II by Brian Nosek et al.
- What should a modern scientific infrastructure look like? by Bjoern Brembs
- A new publishing model in computer science by Yann LeCun
- Evaluating how we evaluate by R.D. Vale
- Declaration on Research Assessment (I have signed it)
- Deep impact: unintended consequences of journal rank
- PubPeer (postpublication review site)
- Publons(get credit for peer reviews)
- Why most published research results are false by John Ioannidis
- Reproducibility project
- Retraction Watch
- JournalReviewer (giving feedback on journals)
- Beall’s list of predatory publishers (incomplete and biased, but still useful)
Access to research
- The Cost of Knowledge (Elsevier boycott, I have signed)
- Who needs access? You need access!
- Directory of Open Access Journals
- If you think it’s rude to ask to look at your co-author’s data you’re not doing science by C. K. Gunsalus and Drummond Rennie
- Why women leave academia by Curt Rice
- Creating a more inclusive academic culture
- Why science is sexist by Nicola Gaston
People to follow
- Bjoern Brembs (also on Google+)
- Timothy Gowers (also on Google+)
- David Roberts (on Google+)
- Mike Taylor (also on Google+)
This is a short post to explain that I have resigned from all duties with Online Journal of Analytic Combinatorics. After 2.5 years during which I (among other activities) converted the journal’s online presence from PDFs on a Google site to an Open Journal Systems installation, kept proper archives of peer review, recruited several new editors, convinced LOCKSS to archive the journal, ensured that it was indexed by Zentralblatt, Scopus and Thomson Reuters, and processed several papers from submission to publication, I was given an ultimatum by the other three managing editors who wanted me to step down from the role. This occurred at the same time as an approach by Springer, which I was not given any details of. Of course I am very unlikely to agree to any deal with such a company, given my beliefs about the importance of open access and control of scientific literature by the research community.
Differences in style and expectations are inevitable in such an enterprise. I did become frustrated with what I saw as extreme lack of commitment by two of the other three managing editors. I can see that reasonable people can differ on such issues, and that my personal style might offend some. What is very irritating is having to work closely with people whose non-performance affects my reputation. What I find inexcusable is those same people using differences of style as an excuse to stage a clumsy coup with obvious ulterior motives.
Anyway, I don’t have much hope for the future of the journal, but I might be wrong. I have moved on to other pursuits. I am now an academic editor of PeerJ Computer Science, for example.