In a stirring unsigned editorial, the New Scientist calls the scholarly publishing industry "indefensible," noting that the business of publishing tax-funded research and then selling it to tax-funded institutions has produced the most profitable industry in the world, where 40% margins dwarf those commanded by oil or finance.
The editorial slams the practice of hiding scientific knowledge behind paywalls, and distinguishes these paywalls from the paywall used by The New Scientist for the majority of its articles by stating "good journalism does not come free" (the editorial is not behind the New Scientist's paywall).
The editorial was occasioned by the advent of Plan S, through which a consortium of 15 of Europe's largest science funders have announced that they will only fund research that is freely available, on open access terms.
Though much of humanity's publicly funded scholarship is paywalled, it can almost all be gotten for free through Sci-Hub, a site that has inspired scholarly publishers to abandon their commitment to a free press and instead demand national firewalls to censor access to the rival site.
The reason it is so lucrative is because most of the costs of its content is picked up by taxpayers. Publicly funded researchers do the work, write it up and judge its merits. And yet the resulting intellectual property ends up in the hands of the publishers. To rub salt into the wound they then sell it via exorbitant subscriptions and paywalls, often paid for by taxpayers too. (Some readers may scent a whiff of hypocrisy, given New Scientist also charges for its content. But good journalism does not come free.)
The academic publishing business model is indefensible. Practically everybody – even the companies that profit from it – acknowledges that it has to change. And yet the status quo has proven extremely resilient.
Time to break academic publishing’s stranglehold on research [Unsigned/New Scientist]
TIL: Sharks are attracted to the sound of death metal. Apparently, the “dense tones” of it mimics the “low frequencies of struggling fish.” (Damn.) In 2015, a Discovery Channel crew — hoping to attract a large great white named “Joan of Shark” — dropped a speaker underwater and played some. Independent: Desperate to feature the […]
The mystery of the glorious fireball emitted by microwaved grapes (featured in my novel Little Brother) has been resolved, thanks to a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which Trent University researchers Hamza Khattak and Aaron Slepkov explain how they destroyed a dozen microwaves before figuring out that the grapes […]
The rise in a belief that the Earth is flat is bizarre and somewhat frightening, a repudiation of one of the most basic elements of scientific consensus. Texas Tech University psych researcher Asheley R. Landrum attended a 2017 flat earth convention and interviewed 30 attendees to trace the origins of their belief in a flat […]
Just a reminder: Print isn’t dead. And now that printers are becoming as portable as cell phones, it might be around for quite some time. Enter the MEMOBIRD Mobile Thermal Printer, a mini-printer that is versatile, portable – and most importantly, never needs a refill on ink or toner. Measuring just a few inches around, […]
What do Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google all have in common? Somewhere in their framework, they all use MySQL, that most versatile (and free!) of database management systems. And they’re not alone. If your company or the one you’d like to work for wrangles data (and who doesn’t?), they’re going to need someone with a […]
There’s a reason you’re hearing about the gig economy in every other business story these days. More than ever, people are finding income from more than one source. And if you find the right one, a side hustle can do more than just pad your pockets – it can allow you to finally get paid […]