Hey Nature Publishing Group – When are you going to live up to your promises about "free" genome papers? #opengate #aaaaaarrgh

This is just ridiculous.  Nature Publishing Group in 2007 announced that they were making all papers in their journals that reported genome sequences would be made freely available and would be given a Creative Commons license: Shared genomes : Article : Nature.

About a year ago I posted to twitter (using the hashtag #opengate) and my blog about how Nature Publishing Group was not following through on their promises.  See for example

and more including some from others
Amazingly, and pleasantly, I note, in my complaining I exacted some responses from people from Nature Publishing Group who swore that these were just oversights and they would fix them.  Well, alas, the money collecting machine of Nature Publishing Group is back.
For example, currently the following papers are not freely available even though at one point they were or they clearly fit in the “Shared genomes” definition Nature Publishing Group so happily promotes:
These above are all papers of mine, so I noticed them first (I noticed this when trying to create a Pintarest Baord for all my papers and not being able to get to a free page for these papers meant I couldn’t add them to the Board.  Could it be that Nature Publishing Group is just trying to get my goat?  Let’s see.  A brief search found these papers by others – all also not freely available even though all clearly fit Nature’s own definition of genome sequencing papers:
Here are some others

I think the funniest (and scariest) part may be the corrections and errata that are not freely available. And these are just the articles I found in a 15 minute search. I am sure there are more.  Yes, Nature Publishing Group has made many genome papers freely available.  That is great.  Much better than many other publishers.  But the cracks in your system are large and suggest that nobody there is actually dedicated to seeing through on the promises.  Promises are meaningless.  Follow through is the key.  Come on Nature Publishing Group – how about assigning a “Free access ombudsman” or something like that who will make sure that free means free.  I am sick of writing these posts.  You should do your own QC …

UPDATE: see some more recent blog posts of mine about this topic:

UPDATE 3-28-12 1 PM PST:
Well, if you look at the comments, Nature is apparently trying to fix this and most of the articles I listed above are now freely available (the corrections are still not free but they claim to be working on it).  But a simple search of Nature finds there are still some papers that are closed off that shouldn’t be:

It’s not that hard to find these.  It baffles me a bit how people at Nature don’t seem to be able to find them.  But maybe I am just really good at searching …

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

12 thoughts on “Hey Nature Publishing Group – When are you going to live up to your promises about "free" genome papers? #opengate #aaaaaarrgh”

  1. On behalf of Nature Publishing Group, we’re sorry that you’ve had to raise this issue again. We’re looking into this as a priority and will post an update here as soon as possible.
    Patrick Carpenter
    Corporate Communications
    Nature Publishing Group


  2. Patrick —

    If NPG were interested in hiring someone to be its Open Access ombudsman (steward? community liaison?), I'm sure Johnathan would be happy to help you find some pretty fantastic candidates.



  3. Jonathan, thanks again for flagging this. All of these articles should now be restored to being free to access (under a Creative Commons license). We're also checking that this hasn't happened to other papers and remedying.

    This was a technical error. I appreciate your frustration.

    We're looking into the corrections issue, too. I'll post a comment on your post to explain.

    Grace Baynes
    Nature Publishing Group


  4. We did a lot of that when you raised this with us before. We should have identified most of them, but if we have missed any, if you want to let me know we'll happily ensure the Creative Commons license is applied. Hopefully it should only be a few articles that were published before the policy was applied, but the policy is retrospective and we will apply the CC license to genome sequence papers published before 2007.


  5. Sorry, comments in line don't make clear that I was replying to your question about whether we'd checked.

    To your question about PubMed Central, please let me come back to you on that.


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