American Chemical Society not winning any blogging friends these days

Wow – just got an email from a colleague with details on a scientific publishing saga.  Here is the summary:

Stage 1: Jenica Rogers wrote a blog post expressing a bit of frustration with the American Chemical Society and their publishing system: Walking away from the American Chemical Society

Stage 2: The Chronicle for Higher Education wrote a story about it: As Chemistry Journals’ Prices Rise, A Librarian Just Says No

Stage 3: The Director of Public Affairs for the ACS responded to questions and was quoted with the following

“We find little constructive dialogue can be had on blogs and other listservs where logic, balance and common courtesy are not practiced and observed,” Glenn S. Ruskin, the group’s director of public affairs, said in an e-mail message. “As a matter of practice, ACS finds that direct engagement via telephone or face-to-face with individuals expressing concern over pricing or other related matters is the most productive means to finding common ground and resolution.”

Then he attempted to clarify some details of the quote in that he claimed that the following got left off the end of the quote “Therefore, we will not be offering any response  to this blog posting or the conversation that has ensued.” but when doing this he got a bit personal and nasty:

The individual responsible for the above cited blog certainly has the right to her opinion, but that does not excuse rude behavior or her use of profanity and vulgarity in addressing ACS or its employees. While not evident in the most recent postings, I won’t repeat what she has posted in the past.  But I think you would agree that vulgarity and profanity postings do not lend themselves to meaningful, productive and civil discourse, thus our decision not to engage any further with her on this topic

And the discussion continued on various blogs like Chembark.  The most disturbing part to me of the whole thing is that it is hard to find anything particularly extremely vulgar in writings by Jenica Rogers (I note – I only googled around for a minute or so so I may have missed things but Walk Walt at Random has more detail on this and also did not find any serious vulgarity).  Generally I find the response of ACS to be extremely distasteful.  They don’t like what she wrote.  So they go after her character.  Brilliant.

For other takes on this story see

How to find an Open Access journal for submitting your paper(s) #Jane #DOAJ

Got asked a question on Twitter that seems worthwhile to post here

Basically what I was suggesting was two possible steps. The first is to search the Database of Open Access Journals which is a great place to browse to see what the possibilities are. Another great resource/tool is JANE – the Journal/Author Name Estimator. I love Jane and use it all the time (if interested also see the paper on Jane here). The default screen for Jane looks like this:

And you can certainly use the default options. Just type in some keywords, or copy and paste a document or abstract of a paper and select “Find Journals” and voila you get some suggested journals which match your text. So for example if I paste in “evolution genomes novelty phylogeny microbes” and search for journals I get some useful suggested journal matches

And you can also select the “show articles” option which will, well, show you some of the article matches
Also you can even export the citations, which is a nice option for adding references to various collections you might have or for looking later.
You can also look for authors or articles that match your text/keywords instead of journals.  The “find authors” option is great for searching for possible reviewers if you are handling the review of a paper (or a grant). 
But my favorite part of Jane is what you can do with the “Show extra options” option. This is the menu you get
This allows one search for kinds of articles as well as for kinds of access.  For example, if I select “only journals with immediate access” I get a list of places I would submit papers
I am sure there are other resources out there but I particularly like these two … Any other suggestions from the world out there?

For those who missed it: "Science as an open enterprise" from Royal Society

This will be of interest to many I think: Science as an open enterprise – Report | Royal Society

It is a comprehensive report from the Royal Society with links to videos, text, previous meetings, references, EPUBs, and more relating to a report that was released a few days ago.  From the web site:

Six key areas for action are highlighted in the report:

  • Scientists need to be more open among themselves and with the public and media
  • Greater recognition needs to be given to the value of data gathering, analysis and communication
  • Common standards for sharing information are required to make it widely usable
  • Publishing data in a reusable form to support findings must be mandatory
  • More experts in managing and supporting the use of digital data are required
  • New software tools need to be developed to analyse the growing amount of data being gathered

Definitely worth a serious browsing/reading.

For more on this see …

Best #openaccess figures: happy baby, sad baby

From J. Integrated Omics. DOI: 10.5584/jiomics.v2012i2012.76

One of the greatest things about open access papers in my mind is the ability to use the figures for blogs, classes, etc, without having to consult lawyers and other paper pushers. So I am starting a new series here where I highlight some fun/good figures from various open access papers.

The one shown above is from “How has the recent high-throughput sequencing revolution improved our knowledge of infant microbial colonization and health. J. Integrated Omics. DOI: 10.5584/jiomics.v2012i2012.76. By Adrien Fischer, Katrine Whiteson, Vladimir Lazarevic, Jonathan Hibbs, Patrice Francois, Jacques Schrenzel

Nature Precedings – a preprint server for biology akin to arXiv – shutting down as of April 3

Just got this email regarding Nature Precedings.

Dear registrant:

As you are an active user of Nature Precedings, we want to let you know about some upcoming changes to this service. As of April 3rd 2012, we will cease to accept submissions to Nature Precedings.  Submitted documents will be processed as usual and hosted provided they are uploaded by midnight on April 3rd.  Nature Precedings will then be archived, and the archive will be maintained by NPG, while all hosted content will remain freely accessible to all.

Be assured that Nature and the Nature research journals continue to permit the posting of preprints and there is no change to this policy, which is detailed here.

Nature Precedings was launched in 2007 as NPG’s preprint server, primarily for the Life Science community.  Since that date, we have learned a great deal from you about what types of content are valued as preprints, and which segments of the research community most embrace this form of publication.  While a great experiment, technological advances and the needs of the research community have evolved since 2007 to the extent that the Nature Precedings site is unsustainable as it was originally conceived.

Looking forward, NPG remains committed to exploring ways to help researchers, funders, and institutions manage data and best practices in data management, and we plan to introduce new services in this area.  We have truly valued your contributions as authors and users to Nature Precedings and hope that you will actively participate in this research and development with us.

Interestingly, there is no announcement at the Nature Precedings site itself.  I assume the email I received is real (it really looks real) though you never know these days.  It’s too bad.  I like the concept of a preprint server for biology.  Interestingly, one of the alternatives to NP is FigShare (which is pretty cool) which recently became part of the Digital Science group which is a sister group to Nature.  Hmm … wonder what the conversations at joint tea parties between Nature and Digital Science group are like.  Could be fun.

Why is the paper behind "The Pill Led to Increased Women’s Wages" story free to .GOV but not others?

There is an interesting story going around the web.  An example of the coverage is here at the Huffington Post: Birth-Control Pill Helped Boost Women’s Wages, New Study Shows.  As for all stories I read about new scientific findings, for this one I looked for the research paper or report behind the story.  The Huff. Post story seemed a bit strange in this regard reporting “Bailey and her colleagues report in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper due to be published in July in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.”  Weird – to be published in July.  Why report on it now?  So I sniffed around at other news stories about this topic and found one that said the working paper was published online.  So a little more sniffing (i.e., Googling) led me to the National Bureau of Economic Research (a private non profit entity).  And there, eventually, I found

The Opt-In Revolution? Contraception and the Gender Gap in Wages 

Martha J. Bailey, Brad Hershbein, Amalia R. Miller
NBER Working Paper No. 17922
Issued in March 2012

When I tried to get the paper I discovered it was $5.  Not so bad.  I prefer of course, free and open publication.  Especially if the research and salaries of the authors were paid for by Government grants.  But I did not have the zeal to dig into the funding behind the work.  And 5$ really is not much money.  So I decided WTF – let’s buy it. Alas, then I discovered that I could not just buy the paper but that I had to create a user account of some kind, and I stopped at that point.  Too complicated for a bit of a whim.  So much for buying the paper.

Then I saw further down on the page

Information about Free Papers 

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a “.GOV” domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

Most of this makes sense to me except the .GOV part.  Why exactly do they make articles available for free to those who work for the US Federal Government but not for others, like, say, the taxpayers who pay for the US Federal Government?  Again, I get that publishers have to make a living somehow and I was even ready to pay for this article because the fee was low and it seemed interesting.  But I am a bit perplexed and annoyed that people that have a .GOV domain address get stuff for free.  This smells funny to me.  You can’t even give pencils to some people working for the US Federal Government due to gift rules.  But apparently you can give away research papers that are not available to others.  What is the logic behind this?  Aargh.  Well.  Maybe I will download the paper when I within a .GOV domain.  But it will feel icky in some way.

Corrections Scamming at Nature: Tantalizing clues, to see errors just pay more money #Seriously?

So – after finding out that “corrections” for freely available papers at Nature cost money to get access to I decided to snoop around at Nature Publishing Group’s archives to see how they have handled corrections.

If you search for “Corrections” in Nature Publishing Group’s journals, you see that many / most are labelled as “free” and in fact, they do seem to be free.  That is until about 5 years ago.  As far as I can tell, most “Corrections” published prior to September 2007 are not freely available.

For example see this correction where we are told

“In the News & Views article “Chemical biology: Ions illuminated” by Christopher J. Chang (Nature 448, 654–655; 2007) an error crept into part a of the accompanying figure.”

Tantalizing.  To find out more you need just pay $18.

Or in this correction:

“In the News & Views article “Organic chemistry:A tuxedo for iodine atoms” by Phil S. Baran and Thomas J.”.  

Not so tantalizing.  But nevertheless the full correction can be yours for just $18.

Or this one:

The story ”That’s no laser, it’s a particle accelerator” (Nature 443, 256; 2006) incorrectly stated that the device described could accelerate electrons to 0.15% of their initial speed.

This is one of my favorites:

“A misleading statement appeared in the News and Views article “Cardiology: Solace for the broken-hearted?” by Christine L.”

Want to know what was misleading?  $18.

How about this one:

In Karim Nader’s News and Views article “Neuroscience: Re-recording human memories” (Nature 425, 571–572; 2003) the citation of reference 6 was unclear. The reference concerned — Siegel, J.

How about this one

“On page 875 of this Article, there are some typographical errors in the equations used in the computer model. The errors are in the third and fourth full paragraphs on this page.” 

Some don’t even have any clues.  For example in this one we just know the problem is in an article on Transatlantic robot-assisted telesurgery.  Or in this one the issue is with ancient homes for hard-up hermit crabs.

I could go on and on and on.

The corrections one needs to pay to see go back to the 1800s.  For example in 1893 J. J. Walker wrote:

“The next two paragraphs will require slight modifications accordingly; and the last will, of course, be unnecessary. I owe this correction to a correspondence with which Prof. W.”.  Alas, we can’t know the rest without – wait for it – without paying $32. 

I think we should have a context.  Find the correction for which the free part is the most absurd or tantalizing.  I don’t know if other closed access journals do the same thing but it would be great to know …

UPDATE: Some more fun stuff from Nature.  There is a paper from Nature in 2005 “Making sure corrections don’t vanish online“.  It is, of course, available for just $18.

Nature’s access absurdity: Human Genome Paper free but access to corrections will costs $64

Ahh – the saga continues.  Though I peripherally noted this in a previous post this deserves a post of it’s own.  Nature Publishing Group has a policy of making genome sequencing papers freely available.  Alas, not all such papers have in fact been made freely available (see Hey Nature Publishing Group – When are you going to live up to your promises about “free” genome papers?  and A Solution to Nature Publishing Group’s Inability to Keep Free Papers Free: Deposit them in Pubmed Central for more on this).

But I have discovered a just painful though funny absurdity with NPG’s money making machine.  They have in fact made the Lander et al. Human genome paper from 2001 freely available.  But there is an Erratum to this paper.  And if you want to get it (and without getting it there is no way to know what is being corrected), you have to pay $32: Access : erratum: Initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome : Nature.  Oh, and in addition a Correction “We have identified several items requiring correction or clarification in our paper on the sequencing of the human genome” for this paper also costs $32.  So the incorrect version of the paper is free but the corrections will cost you $64.

I wonder, for papers for which people pay $$, if there are corrections do they get them for free?

A Solution to Nature Publishing Group’s Inability to Keep Free Papers Free: Deposit them in Pubmed Central

Well, tick tock tick tock.  I am still awaiting some explanation for Nature Publishing Group once again charging for access to genome papers that they promised would be available for free.  See my last post for more details: The Tree of Life: Hey Nature Publishing Group – When are you going to live up to your promises about “free” genome papers? #opengate #aaaaaarrgh

In the meantime I have come up with a solution even if NPG folks cannot figure one out.  It is very simple.  How about Nature Publishing just deposit’s all genome papers in Pubmed Central and thus even when the money making machine of Nature switches some setting and makes the papers not freely available at the Nature web site(s) for some time, the papers will  still be officially free in Pubmed Central.  I think this is probably the only solution I would trust given that this is at least the third time this has happened.

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 …