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Published 2 years ago with 1 Comments

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  • leweb

    This is the natural reaction to the parasitic system established by the scientific publishers. My feeling has always been that information, especially scientific information, and even more especially scientific information resulting from taxpayer funding, should be unconditionally public. But I understand the realities of IP and how making everything open would be hard, so yes, they are nuances to it.

    What I don't understand is this weird system where there's these big publishing corps, they get us to do all the research for them (never paying a dime for it, of course), they get us to review papers for them (again, for free), often they get us to do the editing and formatting for them, sometimes they even ask us to pay fees to publish the papers we submit, and then they charge people (including the universities and/or research institutes we work for) unreasonable fees to read those papers that they did almost nothing to publish. This makes absolutely no sense, but the system is fueled by the silly "publish-or-perish" doctrine that has lead to millions of junk papers and the creation of thousands of junk journals (which makes scientific progress a lot harder, since people have to spend a lot of effort sifting through the bullshit instead of doing useful research). If I want to rebel against this by making my research available online for free, I get in trouble because I'm not publishing in high-ranked journals. So I have to bite the bullet and feed the publishing corp machine.

    This is not a problem exclusive to academic research, BTW. Pretty much any creative endeavor has a huge parasitic layer on top of it making huge profits off of the creator's work while giving a pittance back to the creator and/or the other people who made it happen. Book writers, musicians, etc. are all victims of this. Given that the government officials are in the pockets of corporations and will do nothing about this (even worse, they'll prosecute the people who do the actual creative work if they rebel against the system), the only reasonable response is to pirate the creative work and make it available for free to everyone. This screws the creators of the content, of course, but it screws the corps responsible for this status quo much more, since they have way bigger profits at stake. Many creative people have noticed this, and you have writers, musicians and, yes, also academics, making their stuff available for free even though they run big career risks by doing that (unless they're already well established). But for the rest of the system, I think piracy is the only reasonable way to make scientists and artists be heard by the general public.

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