Academic publishers are locking up the latest research behind paywalls and hurting science, says Michael Eisen. We spoke with the co-founder of the Public Library of Science about democratizing scientific progress.
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Michael Eisen's goal is to change the way scientific findings are disseminated. Most research papers today are locked behind paywalls, and access can cost hundreds of dollars per article. The general public, and most scientists, don't have comprehensive access to the most up-to-date research, even though much of it is funded by U.S. taxpayers.
"It's a completely ridiculous system," says Eisen, an acclaimed biologist at UC Berkeley, an independent candidate for Senate in California running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), and a co-founder of the Public Library of Science, or PLOS, which publishes some of the largest and most prestigious academic journals in the world. These publications stand out for another reason: They're open access, meaning that anyone with an internet connection can read them for free.
PLOS seeks to break up the academic publishing cartel, and it's a leading force in the so-called open science movement, which aims to give the public access to cutting-edge research and democratize scientific progress. This movement became widely publicized after famed hacker and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz sought to upend the publishing system by uploading millions of articles for free; he was prosecuted relentlessly, and ultimately committed suicide in 2013.
Eisen first thought he could simply convince his fellow scientists to start uploading their work, but that didn't work because universities and funding agencies use journals as a proxy for quality. They base tenure and award decisions in large part on how many articles a researcher publishes, and on the reputations of the publishers.
To encourage a switch in researchers' thinking, PLOS's first journal, PLOS Biology, attempted to emulate what Eisen describes as the "snooty" journals such as Science and Nature, which generate prestige in part by rejecting most submitted papers. PLOS Biology became well regarded and provided a proof of concept for PLOS's model, in which funding agencies or universities pay a flat fee up front (typically $1,500, but adjusted based on ability to pay) that's then made accessible for free.
The multidisciplinary journal PLOS ONE, created in 2006, used this same model to become the largest academic publication in the world, though it's been surpassed by other open access sources. PLOS ONE puts papers through a fairly typical peer review process, but it doesn't ask editors to determine a paper's importance; the journal will publish any study that follows sound science and reports its data. According to Eisen, this model encourages more thorough experiments, rather than flashy results that aren't reproducible, and allows readers to determine whether a particular study is important and valid.
Reason spoke with Eisen at the BioHack the Planet Conference in Oakland, a gathering for DIY scientists known as biohackers who eschew traditional research institutions. They often carry out experiments in garage labs and share their raw findings on the internet in real time, a publishing model to which Eisen believes all scientists should aspire.
Eisen also discussed why scientists and universities continue to prop up the academic publishing monopoly, how scientific progress suffers from the current regime, why he's running for senate as an independent, why he beleives political parties are obsolete, and the way forward for the open science movement.
Produced by Justin Monticello. Cameras by Alexis Garcia and Monticello. Music by Silent Partner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha94-6CQdo0), Vibe Tracks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-fPJLhcato), and MK2 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2GRv3HYpoU).
Plos charges money for info that should be free to the public..So this guys good?...but Aaron Swartz was a criminal?...what a joke...government denies us access to any of this guarded science info (even if it benefits us) to keep us from finding out how much they've lied to us!!!...It's bullshit!!!!...and we can't do anything about it!...Too bad researchers have no choice but to go to assholes like this to public their work...fuuuuuckin joke!!!!!...they only charge people if they have money?..he says if some single researcher with no money can publish for free...but if you have spent money or have backing for your research you get charged??...PLOS should be shit down if you ask me...oh and no surprise this the if wants to run for office this year...he wants to tackle climate change?...there's no such thing...climate has always changed...how about tackle Weather Geoengineering or Weather manipulation...but he won't do that, cuz he's from the homeland
One problem with a growing number of open source review journals is theyre having "scientist" pay some amount of money to be published as if their work is valid without consultation of any working scientist about the validity or work within. Why this is dangerous to the scientific world is that fake science can be published and cited by people pushing propaganda in our goverment etc and saying this is in a scientific journal.
Interesting video, but I'd like to clarify the description of the differences in the peer-review process between open access journals and traditional journals. Peer-review in specific paid journals is done by scientists who are expert in the field of the article being published. Open-access journals do not have experts in every field to verify the validity of the data published, so their peer-review process is necessarily less rigorous. Other good points were made about the value of open access journals in the video however, especially for providing a platform for valuable, unsupported science.
Apparently this guy missed Economics 101. Whatever you incentivize, people will start doing. Since there is such a strong incentive for researchers to produce research findings, because people pay for it, there is a strong incentive for researchers to continue doing it. Doing things for public charity is nice, but it's not money.
Started out awesome, then it turned to shit when the guy started pushing green communism, then it went back to awesome when the interviewer started subtly calling him out on his BS. I was wondering how he was saying this shit to someone from ReasonTV.
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Peer review is a license for publishing your findings. The idea of license is so that the elite or a special group can have no competition. Modern science today is not concerned with science but prestige and status. This is not science, and this is not how science is done.
What the interviewer has not mentioned (and is imo negligent for not tackling) is the problem of "predatory journals". So many f the open-access journals are not properly peer-reviewed, and simply spam people looking for content to charge researchers to publish. No reputable institution will credit such publications, and a habit of publishing in such locations will actively harm a researcher's career.
For open-access journals to gain any real traction the problem of predatory journals needs to be tackled. If anything this has become worse over time instead of better, as harassment from these parasites has led to shutting of resources to differentiate predatory from non-predatory publications such as Beall's list.
Disappointed that someone who claims to be freeing science hasn't yet learned that the greenhouse effect is over stated (to say the least), that Co2 is good for plants, and that the onset of the current solar grand minimum (Eddy minimum) is what is directly causing the current climate event's....which happen to be a repeat of past grand minimums.... Instead he's still convinced by the bad science around Co2, and is willing to spend millions of tax dollars on trapping the very molecule plants need for photosynthesis, in order to make zero difference to climate change. I sure won't be voting for him!
The implied lie in using the word "investment" connected to government subsidy is that there is some sureness of positive results whereas the sureness is negative .Taxes cause damage ,projects like the Arpanet delaying the internet by twenty years, the costs are not controlled ,and the protocols are compromised to maximize the subsidies.
You're dealing in absolutes. Computers and the internet prove you false.
"These projects are expensive because subsidies are available" These projects are expensive because they're monolithic.
Going to space, not to mention the moon is *not* expensive because there are enough subsidies, but because it's objectively difficult for humans to attain escape velocity.
"The government has a lot of money" WRONG. The government has NO money. It has our money and has already spent our childrens money. "The government does everything wrong but if the government does it my way it will work." Just another liberal hungry for money and power.
They shouldn't really be involved, unless it is for defense or space research. The university system takes care of all the public domain fields of study already. Intellectual property laws should be changed as well. A much shorter period would be more reasonable.
Kevin Jean I'm not defending them lol. All I want to know is what would be the difference if you started an idea coalitions and why it wouldn't end up as our modern day political parties.
Also how do the parties blackmail us?
It would seem to me, and this is partially an assumption, that the phrase "idea coalitions" means by definition that the people in them will have formed their ideas based on nuanced thought, evidence, and be willing to accept alternative ideas. Now, this could of course collapse and transgress into something similar to what our current main political parties represent. However, if "idea coalitions" differ from political parties in that they are much larger in number and much more focused in their individual interests and objectives, then they may not collapse. If I were to be a member of numerous idea coalitions instead of simply one political party, that could have the effect of detoxifying our political culture and eliminating some tribalism. However, your skepticism is warranted.
Political parties as a term is an abstraction from what we have. What we have has very close to zero accountability to us and gets to skate around doing their job by blackmailing us. I'm not sure why you would defend any of the parties in power in the United States of America.
Regulations always make things worst. If you don't like something about society than use the free market to change it. Persuade people to change but don't dare to use the government to make things worst and take our freedoms away.
German Carranza It doesn't make things worse in regard to the environment though with basic regualtion on things like water, air, and solid pollution. Yea it has some downside, but isn't the upside much better for this case in particular?
The problem is ultimately here's no reason people will stop using the 'journal cartels' unless it's legislated because can't a journal just start to pay royalties to the researchers who also want the prestige of publishing in a journal that is selective? I can't see a way around that because just trying to slander the big journal cartels won't do shit just like slandering a news organisation etc, people still watch them even though everyone hates them
You can tell this guy is a politician without him having to say, he's good at offering solutions that don't tackle the problem. That said I guess PLOS is very good
Simon Banks He said 20% or 30% of all papers are being published in his free journal. His persuasion is working lol.
Regulations always make things worst and they restrict your freedom. Just use the free market to change something you don't like lol.
College student here - our students government just meet with other SG groups throughout texas so we can get public funding for open access textbooks. I am a small l libertarian because there are certain things that the private sector is annoying at. Never open access means more competition in the market driving down prices
I all for open scientific papers, I'm all for consumer rights through regulation and for net neutrality.
People who think that their cookie cutter ideology can be used everywhere have a too simple approach to reality.
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