217 points by Vinnl 2 months ago
It's interesting to see China aligning EU with on issues like this in the context of US-China war of words.
Somewhat related, I remember watching Japanese animes where the the world is divided to imaginary nations that resembles US (big Western super power), China (big Eastern super power) and EU (group of countries combined to form a substantial power).
In these animes, nations form alliances but turn against each other the moment their interests are no longer aligned.
I am starting to see how this is also true in real world.
Is there any evidence that this is connected to other political issues?
I mean, the open-access movement is widely hailed as an important progressive step in improving the academic world, regardless of nationality. Hopefully it's just a matter of time before the US's own agencies join in similar demands, assuming that there isn't already such a plan.
Agreed. Many countries already require publicly funded research be made available for open access. A list of US government agencies that require such access after an embargo period is presented here: https://scholcomm.columbia.edu/open-access/public-access-man...
The NIH's decision to require open access a year after publication was actually a huge step forward, and that must have been a decade ago now. Pretty much everyone who isn't a publisher would prefer it be immediate, but there's a limit to what the funding agencies can do without congressional approval (or interference).
> Is there any evidence that this is connected to other political issues?
No, there isn't in this specific instance.
However, reading news for the past year did give me a overall feeling that ties between China and EU are getting closer while ties between China and US, as well as EU and US are getting more strained.
It’s interesting because, on the surface, it appears that China is exerting more control over its population while the EU seems to be giving back control to its population. But reading between the lines, the EU is actually moving toward more political control over its member countries, just like China but in a more progressively palatable format.
Why wouldn't China support it for other countries? THey'd benefit from the knowledge but would not pay for it. Meanwhile, I can imagine that they'd follow a more restrictive policy that would limit the viewing of Chinese research publications to Chines scientists. Edit: The latter statement is speculative, relative, and probably topic-dependent.
The idea behind this is that they don't just voice support for this from other countries, but adopt it themselves as well, i.e. researchers funded by these funders would be required to submit their work to fully Open Access journals as well.
> EU aligning with China
Hmm...isn't this the other way around, China aligning with "European funders"? (EU is coordinating, individual organisations within countries are actually doing).
Yeah in this case it is like what you described. Updated.
> on issues like this in the context of US-China war of words.
well, it does reduce the chinese cost of acquiring foreign IP, and so the decision seems pretty internally consistent
The animes got those themes from the real world. Pretty cool to see how the learning pattern can go full circle!
I wonder if EU is also going to align with China w.r.t. the Social Credit Score. Want to to business with us? Just make sure every European uses WeChat so we can read everything they say online.
No need, we'll get pretty close by ourselves. Want to contact customer support? Sure, but only through Twitter - and obviously, we'll prioritise those with most followers, as they'll be most able to damage our brand.
China is always in favor of making it easier to steal IP. I hope I live long enough to see them complaining that other nations don't respect their inventions.
I can imagine an anime plot where China/EU go back on their plan. But if they truly end up instituting this plan I'm not seeing any plausible plot line.
Are there really anime stories where a Barbara Streisand character roars at telepathic sourcerers who just stay silent and motionless for the rest of the episode?
Pretty similar to 1984 where Orwell split the world up into Eurasia, East Asia and Oceania
Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. 1984 had it right
In the novel of course this was the public view exposed to a society subject to total information control. "We have always been at war with eastasia".
Like the current surface web isn't completely and utterly controlled.
You don't need "big firewalls" and government-sponsored censorship to control information. There are softer ways  to press for a narrative that's advantageous to you and ways that are way less visible .
Note the claim how supposedly none of the "interventions" happen in the English language, just like the NSA supposedly never spied on US citizens. That statement was rooted in the Smith-Mund Act, which has since then been reformed  and it's been an extremely noticeable shift in the English language online discourses.
Just like language itself is a filter, anybody who only speaks English is dependent on trusting what English sources translate and tell them. While other-language sources often paint a very different, usually way less polarized, picture.
I didn't know 1984 had it first, interesting. Maybe it is finally the time for me to read it.
Definitely recommend it. It's one of my favorite books, and it's not an exaggeration to say it had a radical effect on my politics.
I avoided it somehow in high school, as I did most books, and ended up reading it in my early 20s. Now over the past 10 to 15 years I've seen it starting to come true in scary ways, albeit not exactly as was predicted (which is to be expected of course).
It's also just a good book! It builds to a tremendous climax, and the ending is just as good and unexpected as any good story today. Highly recommended.
If you like audiobooks, the one narrated by Frank Muller is great. Audible has it for $10 but it's of course hobbled with their DRM. There is a copy of the Frank Muller reading floating around on torrents, but a better solution is to just buy DRM free. There is a DRM free version narrated by Simon Prebble that I haven't listened to, but it has great reviews (all audiobooks from Downpour are DRM free btw): https://www.downpour.com/1984?sp=12482
P.S. If you care about your freedom, when possible buy DRM free from places like Downpour. Paired with an app like Listen Audiobooks, I find the UX to be even better than Audible (it's a great app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.acmeandroi...)
I would love to but: "Not Available For Sale in Sweden"
Nevermind, The local library had it as an e-audiobook for direct download. Sadly in swedish. Will be fun, was probably 35 years ago I read it :)
Grab Brave New World while you're at it. They should sell them glued to each other, combined they perfectly describe our current tech and media situation.
I agree with this, both are great books to read and interesting perspectives. I am sure most people have seen this but those who haven't you should check out (https://io9.gizmodo.com/5890861/read-aldous-huxleys-review-o...). Orwell sent a copy of 1984 to Huxley and the response to the book is an interesting read.
The phrase I use is: "It's a brave new world, until you resist, then it's 1984."
Pretty much this. Huxley for the young and horny, Orwell for the old and opinionated.
Add in Animal Farm for the trifecta.
I agree, two completely different types of suppression, each quite scary.
Agreed about the contents, but an important difference ist that 1984 is incredibly well written and gripping while Brave New World is a dull read - IMO.
Yesterday is the best time to have read 1984.
If you ever plan on entering politics don't read it. Today's politicians seem to think it's a manual, not a warning.
Very interesting perspective.
Actually I've read The Prince and I got carried away by the ideas in the book. Maybe I shouldn't read 1984 after all? Anyway, I'm just interested in politics, but not planning to enter politics.
What makes you think it's a warning and not a manual ?
Why not both? I think for most of the working class, it's a dystopian novel with a warning. For most of our politicians and the ruling class (and oddly, many of the big tech companies), it's a utopian novel filled with great ideas.
Orwell certainly meant it as a cautionary tale.
I agree, but better late than never.
These scientific journals hail from a time before the web was widespread and universally accessible.
In the present day, it is technologically feasible for every scientist to self-publish on their own blog (we'd probably want some new tooling for tracking and counting citations distributed across the web, but that's just details for some programmers to work out).
Given the premise, I wonder the following. If we were to simply disband the existing publishers today, rather than trying to regulate them, what system would emerge to fill their place? Would it be similar to the existing system? Or would it be something more free-and-webby as described in the premise? Or something else entirely?
I think we already have the answer in the field of computer science: ACM. I.e., a non-profit professional organization that runs conferences with peer-reviewed content (and some journals and magazines). A cheap membership (<$100) gives you access to all the content, which could even be free (money comes from conferences and donations).
Fundamentally what is needed is a process that produces peer-reviewed, immutable, discrete pieces of globally published work. Self-published blogs don't really achieve that well.
Institutional archives do.
I've thought about this for years, and the fundamental problem I keep running up against is that you'd need to reinvent academic culture and incentives to have any hope of replacing the publication system with something better.
So your answer is that, if we disbanded the existing publishers, a new set of nearly-identical publishers would pop up in there place and our system for the dissemination of scientific knowledge would continue to operate just as it does today?
I don't know that you're wrong, but:
Right now, I really want an article in Nature or some other prestigious journal, in order to advance my career as a scientist. If those prestigious publications were suddenly gone, there might be other publications that would spring up to fill the vaccuum, but the new ones would have no track record and no prestige. So wouldn't everyone just as soon either self-publish or else favor non-exploitative, open-access journals?
It's interesting to imagine the same thought experiment applied to other industries.
What if we did away with all car companies? How about all TV media companies? What if all physicians were no longer physicians tomorrow?
By thinking about how it might happen if it were tech companies, I have a possible answer.
From that perspective, I am assuming that the top (in hierarchy, not importance) groups from the then-incumbents will be the fastest to raise new companies, which will still be able to attract talent with the prestige that the old company used to have (think about how startups founded by ex-FAANG work). E.g. Nature executives and leaders develop N2, FOX builds Wolf, Tesla builds...Tesla, all of which start off with more credibility and popularity than offerings without this benefit. I do not think that the exact same situation would arise though. There would still be easier entry into these markets than before, at least at first.
In my understanding, the most valuable service academic journals provide is peer review. If reviewers start accepting online submissions, people could simply send them links to their online articles hosted on their site or blog. Content would be licensed under the CC-BY-SA. If it passes peer review, the journal would simply link to it and also provide a PDF copy. Journals would become a directory of peer reviewed works.
The most valuable (or at least: the reason we're still paying them) service academic journals provide is being able to categorise academics as having published in those journals. There are plenty of journals that provide perfectly fine peer review, but that are not as important as other journals because they don't have their brand name.
In other words: for many disciplines, the potential replacements providing peer review, archival and distribution are already there. The main thing a replacement system will have to find out is how to determine who to give grants, tenure, etc.
(Disclaimer: I'm working on a project that hopes to achieve that.)
Any chance you can post a link to what you are working on? Does it involve a PageRank like system?
It's in my profile, the link is https://plaudit.pub
It's not currently that interesting to the average HN reader though. The idea is to allow researchers to give each other recognition explicitly, ideally replacing the recognition of "being published in journal x". Since researchers already have a reputation in their academic community, we figured that we could leverage that as a counterweight to the indirect reputation that journals currently have.
We do so by integrating with preprint servers and publishers, providing a widget that allows researchers to endorse the research they're reading. The first integrations are set to launch at the start of 2019, so until then there's not much to play with.
That said, the PageRank-like system you might be looking for could just be the h-index? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-index
Good stuff, thanks for the h-index link, I'll take a look. I've seen something similar, SCImago Journal Rank, but I think that is only for the journal, not the individual. I really like the idea of moving away from the idea of a journal brand as the ranking of importance.
Has AI been applied to academic journal peer review yet? It seems like this might be a significant use case.
It's an interesting question. At the start, it would be somewhat chaotic, also depending on how you define "existing publishers". Currently, many funders/universities determine who to give grants/tenure/etc by looking at the journals researchers have published in. They will still be able to do that for a while.
However, for academics, it wouldn't be entirely clear what to do. For example, if you choose to only disband paywalled journals, they will likely simple submit their works to open access journals, and over time some of those will emerge as the new "good ones".
Which is an interesting parallel, because that is sort of what Plan S tries to do. Except that it doesn't really have the power to "break up" paywalled journals, but only to deny them the ability to publish work they fund. As more and more funders join (like these Chinese funders appear likely to do), the closer this will get to "breaking up".
If you were able to disband all journals, but not preprint servers, then researchers would probably start publishing their work there, new servers would emerge for disciplines that don't have one yet, and some new system of determining "excellent" work will probably emerge. (Disclaimer: I'm working on one such system.)
If also preprint servers were disbanded... I don't know - nobody would be able to publish any more? Would you allow new publishers to be created?
> Would you allow new publishers to be created?
Yes, that was my intent. New publishers could emerge, and with no new restrictions on their behavior. Basically the main change is that the slate will have been wiped clean in terms of prestige.
1. would new publishers emerge?
2. how, if at all, would they be different from what we have now.
This is pretty much what the arXiv is, isn't it?
This is good for legitimizing Open Access as a principle, but as a practical matter, it seems like sci-hub has solved the problem, at least for now.
The fact that it is illegal makes it a problem to use for many people I know, especially in government. That in the TLD changes like every week.
There's no loophole in Plan S that would prohibit redistribution of unmodified copies, is there?
These articles keep referring to the ability to "immediately read." Sounds great but I wanted to make sure there's nothing up the term's sleeve that I'm missing.
> Authors retain copyright of their publication with no
restrictions. All publications must be published under
an open license, preferably the Creative Commons
Attribution Licence CC BY.
What would be a components of an "ideal" solution? I'd love to hear improvements or corrections to my assumptions.
1) Free to view all approved papers (possibly run by a non-profit and funded by grants around the world)
2) Establish reputations for scientists (giving scientists access to future grants)
3) Peer review handled autonomously (submitted papers are automatically distributed autonomously by the system to other scientists in the related field with a high enough reputation)
4) Easy searching for articles (articles have semantic structure, are categorized by author, title, subject, citations, etc.)
5) Removal of "scientific silos" (all articles published to the same site, categories define content rather than publishing brand)
1) There already exist many platforms where one can freely view peer reviewed papers. The main problem is that only a small section of researchers submit their work there.
2) This, I think, is the crux. We should move away from using journal names as a proxy for quality (which, luckily, is an explicit goal of Plan S), and find an alternative. Altmetrics is an example of a company that attempts to establish one such alternative, I'm part of a project that attempts another.
3) This would be nice, but I don't think that's be necessary for making them open access? Given how conservative much of academia appears to be, I'm not sure if this would actually make a transition more likely.
4) Metadata for research is often already really good, also for Open Access research. Finding the actual article itself usually is the main challenge, but the only reason for that is because those articles can be behind a paywall. With them freely available, discovery is practically solved.
5) This too should be fixed if all research is published under an open license such as CC-By, which would allow everybody to mirror articles. (Like this project does: https://oalibrary.org/)
When policies that require scientists to publish in journals that either give open access or permit simultaneous open publication, does it affect previously-published works?
That is, will this mean that more new research will be freely available, but that old research will still be behind paywalls? If so, it would be interesting if researchers could push journals to not only allow open access for their new work, but also require that previous papers also be made available.
No, it doesn't. Making previously published work available would still be an open problem - although of course, the pressure to fix that is lower as long as Sci-Hub exists.
(Also, often subscriptions by university libraries to include the provision that they maintain access to already-published work, so together with inter-library loan, it's not that much of a problem.)
Making a good search facilities like Sci-Hub or even steps further is also very important. Not only paywalling is a problem - even if you have a subscription number of clicks to reach the article is usually more than one, not to speak about awful, unintuitive interfaces depending on publisher/journal.
It's striking how many academics admit (usually anonymously, online) to using Sci-Hub for content they do have legitimate access to. Sci-Hub appears to be pretty much flawless at looking up articles across all publishers by ID or even title, and quickly returning the right thing if it's available.
The systems provided by publishers are, um, not. They're at the usual quality of bad corporate software, but more strikingly their anti-piracy changes have only served to make the gap worse. There are anti-crawler features which freeze access to entire universities when a hidden link is followed. There are view-in-app and download-disabled restrictions, often associated with no-searchable-text. (Which are especially idiotic, of course, because you can't actually restrict access to static content once you serve it. Using screenshots and OCR is irritating, but not hard to apply.) And in the worst cases, there's "available on request" via a library or some other human-interaction delivery mechanism. Which actually would limit bulk piracy, but only by crippling access altogether.
Every time I've tried to get a background in a topic or write about it, there's been a step where I check a dozen papers and discard 80% of them as being irrelevant for my purpose (or simply bad). Assuming that's common, it's hard to imagine how silos with custom access mechanisms can endure against a single, searchable repository at any price.
>It's striking how many academics admit (usually anonymously, online) to using Sci-Hub for content they do have legitimate access to. Sci-Hub appears to be pretty much flawless at looking up articles across all publishers by ID or even title, and quickly returning the right thing if it's available.
It's funny how absolutely useless Google scholar is for finding papers. You can specifically put in authors and the exact title in quotes and it will still be on like the third page.
For Open Access articles, Unpaywall  (or at least its API) usually can find a direct link to the PDF (or HTML if available). For example, this is what I use in Flockademic  to be able to directly link to the articles themselves for researchers that have added the DOIs of the Open Access articles to their ORCID iDs.
Point being, if articles can be freely distributed, that paves the way for discovery services to provide better interfaces to the research.
Some commentary: if large Chinese funders decide to throw their weight behind Plan S, that would be great news. Those who follow the Open Access world will have seen that the traditional publishers are in full swing trying to discredit it, crying foul about academic freedom and reporting widely about the petition by academics concerned about Plan S  and not as much about the one by its supporters  - the latter of which I'd encourage all supporters to sign.
The main goal of Plan S is to transform the publishing industry, whereas the main fear of concerned academics will be that they will be unable to publish in the journals that are (currently) important for their career perspectives. That fear is mostly rooted in a) fear that Plan S will not achieve its goals, i.e. that the "big name" journals will not go open access and that they will be blocked from publishing there, and b) that non-European funders will be less likely to give them tenure/grants due to them not having published in said journals.
A major foreign funder helps alleviate both concerns, and will put additional pressure on the US to follow suit - which would all but put the concerns to rest. Except for the traditional publishers, of course.
No need for a paywall when you have a firewall
What about tearing down some other walls...