Severe ME Day of Understanding and Remembrance: Aug. 8, 2017
Determined to paper the Internet with articles about ME, Jody Smith brings some additional focus to Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Day of Understanding and Remembrance on Aug. 8, 2017 ...
Discuss the article on the Forums.

Guardian: Wellcome Trust joins 'academic spring' to open up science

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Firestormm, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. Firestormm

    Firestormm

    Messages:
    5,022
    Likes:
    4,825
    Cornwall England
    Wellcome Trust joins 'academic spring' to open up science

    Wellcome backs campaign to break stranglehold of academic journals and allow all research papers to be shared free online


    9 April 2012: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/apr/09/wellcome-trust-academic-spring

    [​IMG]

    Wellcome's move adds weight to the campaign for open access to academic knowledge, which could lead to benefits across a broad range of research fields. Photograph: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

    One of the world's largest funders of science is to throw its weight behind a growing campaign to break the stranglehold of academic journals and allow all research papers to be shared online.

    Nearly 9,000 researchers have already signed up to a boycott of journals that restrict free sharing as part of a campaign dubbed the "academic spring" by supporters due to its potential for revolutionising the spread of knowledge.

    But the intervention of the Wellcome Trust, the largest non-governmental funder of medical research after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is likely to galvanise the movement by forcing academics it funds to publish in open online journals.

    Sir Mark Walport, the director of Wellcome Trust, said that his organisation is in the final stages of launching a high calibre scientific journal called eLife that would compete directly with top-tier publications such as Nature and Science, seen by scientists as the premier locations for publishing. Unlike traditional journals, however, which cost British universities hundreds of millions of pounds a year to access, articles in eLife will be free to view on the web as soon as they are published.

    He also said that the Wellcome Trust, which spends more than 600m on scientific research a year, would soon adopt a more robust approach with the scientists it funds, to ensure that results are freely available to the public within six months of first publication.

    Researchers who do not make their work open access in line with the Trust's policy could be sanctioned in future grant applications to the charity.

    Walport, who is a fellow of the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific academy, said the results of public and charity-funded scientific research should be freely available to anyone who wants to read it, for whatever purpose they need it. His comments echo growing concerns from scientists who baulk at the rising costs of academic journals, particularly in a time of shrinking university budgets.

    The majority of the world's scientific research, estimated at around 1.5m new articles each year, is published in journals owned by a small number of large publishing companies including Elsevier, Springer and Wiley. Scientists submit manuscripts to the journals, which are sent out for peer review before publication. The work is then available to other researchers by subscription, usually through their libraries.

    Publishers of the academic journals, which can cost universities up to 20,000 (16,500) a year each to access, argue the price is necessary to sustain a high-quality peer review process.

    A spokesperson for Elsevier said the company was open to any "mechanism or business model, as long as they are sustainable and maintain or improve existing levels of quality control".

    He added that the company had been working on open access initiatives with funding bodies. "There has been a constructive collaboration as we've worked with the Wellcome Trust to build support and participation among authors At the same time, we will also remain committed to the subscription model. We want to be able to offer our customers choice, and we see that, in addition to new models the subscription model remains very much in demand."

    But the government has also signalled its support for open access. At the launch of the government's innovation strategy in December, David Willetts, minister for universities and science, said he aspired to have all government-funded research published in the public domain.

    "We want to move to open access, but in a way that ensures that peer review and publishing continues as a function. It needs to be paid for somehow."

    Science funders say this is not the problem. "I think publishing is a cost of research in the same way as buying a centrifuge is a cost of research," said Walport. "We have to maximise the public benefit of the research that we publish and we only do that by distribution."

    According to David Prosser, executive director of Research Libraries UK, British universities spend around 200m a year on subscriptions to electronic databases and journals, which is around 10% of the block grants the institutions receive from government. The exact prices paid by university libraries are covered by confidentiality clauses with publishers but Prosser said that many of Britain's big universities "are spending, with some of our largest publishers, more than 1m a year each".

    The rising costs of journal subscriptions have led many scientists around the world to question the business models of the publishers, which can make profit margins of more than 35% through selling access to the results of publicly-funded research. Proponents for open access in science argue that research papers should be freely available to anyone who wants to read them, with the publication costs borne by the authors of the work, perhaps as part of the research grant that pays for their work.

    "If you look at the way the web works and what makes effective information dissemination on the web, then it's clear that open content spreads further, has more influence, is used in more ways than the people who wrote it could ever expect," said Cameron Neylon, a biophysicist who will take up a position as director of advocacy at Public Library of Science, an open access publisher, in July.

    "From the perspective of research funders, particularly public research funders, the attitude has to be 'we fund this research, it generates these particular outputs, some of them are journal publications, how do we ensure that we maximise the impact that those outputs have?'"

    The Wellcome Trust makes money available to its grant holders so that they can pay publishers to make their work freely available. The problem, said Walport, is that only 55% of Wellcome-funded researchers comply. Scientists often do not take up the open-access option or end up publishing in journals that refuse to make the work open access.

    To force more scientists into submitting their work into open-access journals, Walport said the Wellcome Trust was considering sanctions for researchers and universities if Wellcome-funded research is not made freely available. One option under examination is to make grant renewals contingent on open access compliance, so that new money would be released only once a scientist's previous Trust-supported work is fully accessible.

    Another proposal is to require universities to confirm that papers produced with a Wellcome grant are accessible before the final instalment of that grant is paid.

    "If a journal won't comply with our grant conditions, then we're effectively saying you can't publish in that journal," he said, although the Trust does not support the boycott of paid-access journals.

    Even the six-month stipulation keeps original research out of the public domain for too long, added Walport.

    "Frankly, it's a bit like saying you can have the Guardian free after three weeks the news section has little value at that stage. I would say that even six months is ultimately too long for research."

    Another issue for many scientists is that publishing houses get the services of scientists, for the purposes of peer review, for free.

    "One of the biggest costs in the whole scientific publishing world is borne by the academic community, which is the peer review," said Walport. "The journals have benefitted from having free, potentially very expensive consultancy. Again, why do we do that, if the end product is going to be locked behind a paywall?"

    Walport said there was a trend for conservatism in the scientific community because scientists want to get published in the most prestigious journal brands such as Nature, Science or Cell. Until relatively recently, there were not many alternatives for researchers who wanted to make a big impact with their work but the commercial success of open-access journals published by the PLoS group, has proved that open access can make money. "PLoS ONE is now the largest scientific journal in the world and this is ramping up," said Walport.

    To address the lack of competition, the Wellcome Trust has teamed up with the Max Planck Society in Germany and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US to set up a new open-access journal called eLife. "The idea is that that will take on the very top end of the scientific publishing industry, a visible high-profile competitor to Nature and Science," said Walport. "In no sense is this a war in which we're trying to put them out of business, the thing that would be best for them [publishers] to do is to change their publishing model."

    Willetts has appointed Dame Janet Finch, a former vice-chancellor of Keele University, to sit down with academics and publishers to work out how an open-access scheme for publicly-funded research might function in the UK.

    Research Councils UK, the co-ordinating body for the distribution of more than 3bn of government money via the science research councils, has issued a consultation on open access. The main recommendation is in line with the Wellcome Trust's policy, that the final version of research papers produced as a result of public money must be made open access online within six months of initial publication.
     
    Sean and Enid like this.
  2. Firestormm

    Firestormm

    Messages:
    5,022
    Likes:
    4,825
    Cornwall England
    Anyone know who pays for peer-review and how some Journals like PlosOne are able to publish open-access if indeed it is the Journal that picks up the tab? Or is it something arranged academically?
     
  3. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,309
    Likes:
    858
    UK
    Thanks Firestormm - nice find - I think we all know about "strangleholds" especially regarding ME in the UK known more for cronyism.
     
  4. Bob

    Bob

    Messages:
    9,846
    Likes:
    33,923
    England (south coast)
    Peer reviews are carried out voluntarily, free of charge, for all journals, even though the bigger journals make large profits.

    PlosOne is able to publish open-access because it charges the researcher for publishing, rather than the reader.
    The charges seem quite reasonable (much cheaper than I expected) (About 1800 for PlosOne, from what I read), and are part of the research costs, so will be paid by the funder of the research.

    There are two potential negatives that come from charging the researcher, as far as I can see...
    The first seems to be a possible conflict of interest... The journal gets their profits from the researcher, so there might be a motivation to publish rather than reject... But personally, I can't imagine the quality of the peer review process being worse than it is now.
    The second is that it might make it harder for independent researchers to publish, if they have to pay, but the charges for PlosOne do seem reasonable.

    Overall, I think it has to be a better system to make all research freely available, in the age of the internet.


    Here's another article in the Guardian, published on the same day as the above article, which has all this info in:

    Academic spring: how an angry maths blog sparked a scientific revolution
    9 April 2012
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2...ogpost-boycott-scientific-journals?CMP=twt_gu



    And here's some info about the USA perspective, which I posted some time ago, in case anyone is interested:
    http://phoenixrising.me/forums/showthread.php?16603-Open-access-debate-(USA)-latest-developments
     
    Firestormm likes this.
  5. SOC

    SOC

    Messages:
    7,802
    Likes:
    16,454
    While I agree with free access to research papers in principle, I see some troubling possibilities here.

    First, the quality of the "peer" review at PlosOne, for example, is questionable. The definition of "peer" is much broader than that used in prestigious journals, or was the last time I looked. This permits people like the Wesseley crowd to volunteer as peer reviewers for a broad range of topics (anything to do with ME/CFS, for example) on which they know very little (infections in ME/CFS for example) and thereby control the message in certain general areas by giving their buddy's sloppy research a clean bill of health, so to speak, while giving poor reviews or making unreasonable demands of papers that don't fit their agenda.

    Secondly, a lot of crap can be published if the volunteer peer reviewers have their own agenda. We saw what happened with the PACE reports. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who guards the guards? Who polices the police?) Who is checking to see that the reviewers are reviewing fairly? I'm already having deadly visions of volumes and volumes of quick, crap psychobabble research being unloaded inadequately reviewed on an unsuspecting public. "The accumulated mass of research shows that ME/CFS is a psychiatric condition that can be cured by competing in Iron Wo/man competitions. That or you're a lazy bunch of hysterical females with a history of child abuse." :eek: Good research takes time; crap research does not.

    We saw some of this you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch yours incestuous sloppy reviewing with Reeves and the Wesseley crew, so the current system is not free of poor review practices, but this new system looks to leave the door wide open in all fields to biased reviewing.

    Maybe it just becomes a Buyer Beware issue. Certainly some excellent research that doesn't currently find a home in current quality journals will get published this way. That's wonderful. But it comes with the price of having to sift through a lot of chaff to find it.

    The fact that the Wellcome Trust is all for this makes me suspicious. They're all about agenda and this apparently suits their agenda. What does that mean for us, I wonder.
     
  6. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

    Messages:
    4,578
    Likes:
    12,168
    South Australia
    The quality of peer review depends on the ability of the journal to solicit high quality peers. The reputation of PLOS One is increasing, such that in most fields the peer review process will be of high quality, at least for high importance studies.
     
  7. Bob

    Bob

    Messages:
    9,846
    Likes:
    33,923
    England (south coast)
    I totally understand your concerns SOC, and I don't know the answers because I don't think the current system is any better than the proposed system.
    Scientific journals are part of the scientific establishment, and so there are always going to be vested interests involved.
    The open access model of journal isn't necessarily any weaker or stronger than the existing models.
    What matters is integrity and rigorous standards on the part of the journal and the reviewers.
    I originally thought that PlosOne was a low quality journal, but everything I've read about it suggests that it actually has a good enough reputation.
     
  8. Firestormm

    Firestormm

    Messages:
    5,022
    Likes:
    4,825
    Cornwall England
    Thanks Bob for the explanation in your first comment. Appreciated.

    Here's a follow-up published yesterday in the Guardian: Government backs call for research data to be made freely available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/apr/10/government-backs-research-results-public

    There will undoubtedly be quite substantial savings for academia etc. even though they would need to fund the peer-review.

    I wonder how the 'Impact Factor' is generated and whether this will be impacted (lol) by any of these changes? Only compare Science I think with PlosOne and there is quite a difference I think.

    Does it matter? From a layperson's perspective I don't think so and I have always thought it was a sign of the 'old boys network' and 'prestige' of certain Journals rather than suggestive of a paper's quality or the importance of the research per se.
     
  9. Jarod

    Jarod Senior Member

    Messages:
    784
    Likes:
    455
    planet earth
    Very cute. Remember the "Arab Spring" is a way for Western Elites and Zionists to destroy the Mid-east under the guise of freedom and peace.
     
  10. Bob

    Bob

    Messages:
    9,846
    Likes:
    33,923
    England (south coast)
    Here is a quote from UK government minister, David Willets, taken from a new Guardian article, talking about UK government's aims for Open Access publishing:


    I've underlined the bit about the public being able to rate published papers... That will create a lot of conversation and controversy, to say the least!
     
  11. Firestormm

    Firestormm

    Messages:
    5,022
    Likes:
    4,825
    Cornwall England
    Thanks Bob. I'll have a read of that article tomorrow. I can't though see this public rating being anything more than e.g. Amazon's star system, can you? I mean it can't possibly influence anything - although if it leads to greater interaction with the authors and scientific community then that would be good.

    It's great when e.g. Plos One publishes something and a comment prompts a response from an author. Even if only to better help explain methodology and interpretation. Far better than the alternative anyway.
     
  12. Bob

    Bob

    Messages:
    9,846
    Likes:
    33,923
    England (south coast)
    Yes, I agree, Firestormm, that there is a danger of it just being a gimmick.
    But like you say, depending on how it is implemented, it might make a difference on occasions, if the public are able to test the paper, and highlight inadequacies, and to engage with the authors.

    I think the PACE Trial would have attracted hundreds of responses, so I'm not sure how useful all the public comments would be in such a case, because there would be so much noise. The most useful public interactions might get lost in the noise, unless there was a sophisticated way to raise the profile of the most helpful public feedback.
     
    Firestormm likes this.
  13. Firestormm

    Firestormm

    Messages:
    5,022
    Likes:
    4,825
    Cornwall England
    Mentioned in the article you referenced but a more complete review:

    Wikipedia founder to help in government's research scheme

    Academic spring campaign aims to make all taxpayer-funded academic research available for free online


    1 May 2012: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/may/01/wikipedia-research-jimmy-wales-online

    The government has drafted in the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to help make all taxpayer-funded academic research in Britain available online to anyone who wants to read or use it.

    The initiative, which has the backing of No 10 and should be up and running in two years, will be announced by the universities and science minister, David Willetts, in a speech to the Publishers Association on Wednesday.

    The move will embolden what has been dubbed the "academic spring" a growing campaign among academics and research funders for open access in academic publishing. They want to unlock the results of research from behind the lucrative paywalls of journals controlled by publishing companies.

    Almost 11,000 researchers have signed up to a boycott of journals owned by the huge academic publisher Elsevier. Subscriptions to the thousands of research journals can cost a big university library millions of pounds each year costs that have started to bite as budgets are squeezed. Harvard University, frustrated by the rising costs of journal subscriptions, recently encouraged its faculty members to make their research freely available through open access journals and to resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls.

    "Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the very forefront of open research," Willetts writes in the Guardian.

    Willetts said he recognised the value that academic publishers brought to the research process. "But, as the world changes, both cultural and technological change, their business model is going to change. I want to work with the Publishers Association as we move to the new model."

    Wales is a vocal supporter of free and open access to information on the web and he was brought in by No 10 earlier this year as an unpaid adviser to government on crowdsourcing and opening up policymaking. On open access, he will assist the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the UK Research Councils to develop new ways to store and distribute research data and articles.

    He will initially advise the research councils on its 2m Gateway to Research project, a website that will act as a portal, linking to publicly funded UK research all over the web. "Jimmy Wales can make sure that we maximise the collaborative potential, the added value from that portal," Willetts added. "Wikipedia has become a crucial part of our cultural landscape and having the advice from the person who created Wikipedia as we embark on this big project will be incredibly helpful."

    Wales will also feed ideas into the work of Dame Janet Finch, a former vice-chancellor of Keele University, who was asked by Willetts to convene academics, librarians and publishers to work out how an open-access scheme for publicly funded research might work in the UK. Her recommendations to government are expected in June this year.

    A government source said that, in the longer term, Wales would help to set up the next generation of open-access platforms for British researchers. "He's also going to be advising us on the format in which academic papers should be published and data standards. One of the big opportunities is, right now, a journal article might be published but the underlying data isn't and we want to move into a world where the data is published alongside an article in an open format, available free of charge."

    This initiative is most likely to result in a central repository that will host all research articles that result from public funding. The aim is that, even if an academic publishes their work in a traditional subscription journal, a version of their article would simultaneously appear on the freely available repository. The repository would also have built-in tools to share, comment and discuss articles.

    One of the biggest challenges in achieving full open access for research will be the resistance of journal publishers to changing their lucrative business models. The majority of the world's scientific research, estimated at about 1.5m new articles a year, is published in journals owned by a small number of large publishing companies including Elsevier, Springer and Wiley.

    Scientists submit manuscripts to the journals, which are sent out for peer review before publication. The work is then available to other researchers by subscription, usually through their libraries. Publishers of the academic journals, which can cost universities up to 16,500 a year each to access, argue the price is necessary to sustain a high-quality peer review process.

    David Prosser, executive director of Research Libraries UK, which represents academic libraries, welcomed the plans in principle and said the details implementation would be crucial.

    A parallel system that runs alongside the journals might be difficult to operate, he said. "What would an author put into this parallel system, are they putting in a different type of research output other than the paper?"

    Making research data standardised and more available would be valuable, he added. "The worry is that there's all this data out there and it's in lots of different formats and it's not interoperable and it's not being archived properly and it's going to disappear and there's a danger of a data black hole. The fact that the government is talking about doing something for that is absolutely fabulous."
     
  14. Bob

    Bob

    Messages:
    9,846
    Likes:
    33,923
    England (south coast)
    Ah, thanks Firestormm, I managed to miss that one.
    That explains a bit more, doesn't it.
     
  15. oceanblue

    oceanblue Guest

    Messages:
    1,174
    Likes:
    362
    UK
    Thanks, I think this is very exciting.

    And this piece in the Guardian from the minister for Universities and Science [my bolding]

    Open, free access to academic research? This will be a seismic shift | David Willetts

    My department spends about 5bn each year funding academic research and it is because we believe in the fundamental importance of this research that we have protected the science budget for the whole of this parliament.

    We fund this research because it furthers human knowledge and drives intellectual, social and economic progress. In line with our commitment to open information, tomorrow I will be announcing at the Publishers Association annual meeting that we will make publicly funded research accessible free of charge to readers. Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the forefront of open research.

    The challenge is how we get there without ruining the value added by academic publishers. The controversy about the status and reliability of reviews on TripAdvisor is a reminder of how precious genuine, objective peer review is. We still need to pay for such functions, which is why one attractive model known as gold has the funders of research covering the costs. Another approach, known as green, includes a closed period before wider release during which journals can earn revenues.

    While opening up the fruits of research is a seismic shift for academic publishing, it is not a leap into the unknown. There are many good examples in medicine. For instance, the Wellcome Trust requires all the research it funds to be made freely available online. A report this year from the U.S. Committee for Economic Development has concluded that the US National Institute of Health's policy of open access has accelerated the transition from basic research to commercialisation, generated more follow-on research and reduced duplicate or dead-end lines of inquiry so increasing the US government's return on its investment in research. And the researcher Philip Davis has found that, when publishers randomly make articles open access on journal websites, readership increases by up to 250%.

    Moving from an era in which taxpayer-funded academic articles are stuck behind paywalls for much of their life to one in which they are available free of charge will not be easy. There are clear trade-offs. If those funding research pay open-access journals in advance, where will this leave individual researchers who can't cover the cost? If we improve the world's access to British research, what might we get in response? Does a preference for open access mean different incentives for different disciplines?

    These questions explain why I have asked Dame Janet Finch, one of the UK's most experienced and respected academics, to produce a report setting out the steps needed to fulfil our radical ambition. She is working with all interested parties and her report will appear before the summer. It is expected to chart a course towards a world where academic articles are freely and openly available at or around the time of publication.

    Twenty years ago it would have been impossible to imagine an encyclopedia written by millions, openly and freely collaborating via the internet. Today, Wikipedia is an important part of our lives and its co-founder, Jimmy Wales, will be advising us on the common standards that will have to be agreed and adopted for open access to be a success, and also helping to make sure that the new government-funded portal for accessing research really promotes collaboration and engagement. We want to harness new technologies to enable people to comment and rate published papers in ways that were not possible before, and we want to develop new online channels that enable researchers from around the world to collaborate and share data and build new research partnerships. With Jimmy Wales's help, I'm confident that we can achieve all this and much more.

    Our commitment to open up access to academic research will help strengthen this information revolution, and put more data and power in the hands of people. It's proof that there are still dividing lines in British politics and that we are firmly on the side of openness.
     

See more popular forum discussions.

Share This Page