Saturday, January 19, 2013

Academic Publisher Unveils New Journal Which Prevents All Access To Its Content

AMSTERDAM - Academic publishers are currently under attack by scientists, governments and the general public for hiding the majority of published research articles behind paywalls. Readers have to pay either a one-time access fee of up to $50 to read one article or obtain an annual subscription to the journal in order to access the research findings. The access fees for research articles generate multi-billion dollar profits for academic publishers, but this lucrative industry is having a hard time justifying the fees. Since the bulk of research is funded through government grants, most people feel that the research articles which summarize and document the public-funded research should be freely available to the public. Some academic publishers are gradually giving in to these demands and are now offering "open access" publishing. In this model, researchers pay a fee to cover the publication costs, but the publications are then available without any fees to all readers.

Not all academic publishers agree with this approach. Else Beer, the CEO of the prominent academic publisher Elsebeer, has condemned the open access approach and is instead betting on a new line of closed-access journals. Beer unveiled the new closed-access journal "Facts of Life" at a press conference.

"We realize that there is a big push towards open access publishing in science, but few people think about the problems that come with open access. If everyone is able to access a scientific paper, it is far more likely that they will read the paper and perhaps even try to replicate the results. This is a huge problem for scientists who routinely publish irreproducible results, as well as for scientists who want to keep their tools and scientific methods secret."

Unlike previous closed access journals in which articles are hidden behind a paywall and can be accessed after paying a fee, "Facts of Life" guarantees that nobody other than the author can access the published article. This allows scientists to include the article as a published paper on their CV and cite their work, without ever having to worry that someone else might read the article. Beer expects that this new concept will be embraced by many researchers

The physician-scientist and poet Yuri Zhivago is among the first researchers to submit manuscripts to the new journal. "It is a blessing to have this journal", Zhivago commented, "I have at least three manuscripts that contain experiments that cannot be replicated.  Now I can publish them without having to worry about my tenure committee criticizing me for having too few publications. If I published them in an open access journal, I would eventually have to retract the papers and this would could damage my reputation as a researcher. By publishing in "Facts of Life", I can be sure that nobody will ever be able to accuse me of publishing fraudulent data."

Beer is confident that there are many other Zhivagos out there who need a completely closed-access journal. "We are taking closed access publishing to a new level and we think that we provide a much-needed forum for all the researchers want to publish but have no sound data." She is convinced that other publishers will follow suit when they see the success of the "completely closed access" model.    

16 comments:

  1. If results of research are not reproducible then they cannot be considered validated. Maybe I have missed the point of this article but isn't the point of research to produce the most validated results?

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    1. It's satire.... :/

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    2. *facepalm* yes that is the entire point of the article..

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  2. Alt Med gurus should have no trouble get published now ;-)

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  3. Okay that explains exactly why I missed the point. I am new to this blog, I was directed to it. Thanks. I agree it is a problem that research is not open to peer review and scrutiny.

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    1. You were not the only one, many thought this was real and not satire, probably because many academic publishers do have ridiculous policies. This blog has a few satirical pieces / spoofs, but also other posts that review scientific research as well as posts about literature and politics.

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  4. i think the alarm bells started with the name Else Beer of Elsebeer...

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  5. I think you mean Elsevier?!

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  6. I just love beer!

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  7. I think that this is brilliant, I shall be submitting many articles to Facts of Life, some of dodgy quality, and some entirely devoid of content. By this means I will certainly boost my chances of tenure.

    What particularly springs to mind as a future expansion of this model is the opportunity for publishers to charge hefty subscriptions to institutional libraries, while maintaining the strict no access policy. This should, in the time of free-to-publish web-based open-access journals help assure the large income streams publishers enjoy on the basis of content that is so exclusive that even with large subscriptions, subscribers cannot access the content.

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  8. Perhaps this blog post is fictional and serves as an early April's Fool's joke? I can't imagine that any academic (at least in the sciences) would champion the publication of data that is not reproducible.

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  9. In many sociology journals, researchers are allowed to distribute copes of their research if it is not the typeset page proofs. Often, the publisher only has a right to a formatted copy. Academics should know their rights...

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  10. Speaking as a publisher, I really can't see that it is my responsiblity alone to ensure that obscure and dodgy research is totally hidden behind pay walls. Surely there is a duty on all readers to ignore inconvenient results and make the most newsworthy interpretations of their data?

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  11. You've heard of the Bigfoot DNA paper? It's pretty much this joke come true.

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    1. Hi David, Thanks for the link. This DeNovo journal that published the BigFoot paper does sound like a big joke - I never thought that the spoof story could actually come to life - but I also never believed in Bigfoot :)

      Here is the description from the DeNovo webpage:

      "DeNovo publishes new research articles in any area that aligns with the foundation's mission."

      :)

      By the way, I hope my second spoof article about Professor Dick Tator handing out "erase data" coupons to grad students does not come to life:

      http://fragments-of-truth.blogspot.com/2013/02/professor-hands-out-erase-undesirable.html

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