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RE: Koreanosaurus (regarding PDFs instead of forelimbs)
David responded with an overly snarky reply to this query, essentially stating
a major truth: Historically, publishers have always charged for their product.
However, this offers no solution: The machinery, operators, typesetters
(electronic even, including programmers), editorial staff, reviewers, managers,
etc. must all be somehow compensated for their time; this is done through
donations and grants for nonprofits, and fees and dues for for-profits. Some
people volunteer for not reimbursement, but these are few although strewn
across the spectrum of jobs, and are prominent in SVP from the editorial
service for JVP, the administration board, the organizers for events, etc. They
do get paid, but not always by SVP, but rather by their respective home
organizations. Costs of production of the elements that we wish to enjoy
prevent us from making these things for free.
If JVP were to adjust to a PLoS-like platform, and go totally virtual, it could
cut out some costs, but not all: It would still function as the outlet of the
SVP, which would lose a major funding source if the subscription were
circumvented by virtual copies flying around willy-nilly of any of its
products. Limitation to purchased items forces an income flow. JVP adjusting
would reduce time and effort in editing, scripting, submission, etc., which is
mostly already now in place (no more hard copies of submitted material!),
although we receive physical issues every two months. We can, instead, receive
a virtual key that allows access to the publisher's gateway to that issue (and
only that issue), as part of our dues. This helps sunder the physical copy from
SVP (save for any other potential ICZN requirements, physical copies would be
made available to major universities and libraries) and places the burden of
cost of print on the purchaser. This, as they say, is a solution JVP is already
But what about other publishers, other venues? This is, after all, not about
JVP but about a journal Mike is told he cannot distribute his published paper
for free as a virtual file that may be infinitely replicatable. The issue there
instead is on the sense of intellectual property versus legal ownership of
physical or published works. In the case here, the work itself, via agreement
with submission and acceptance of the work to the journal, belongs to the
journal, and it thus may make any rules it can and enforce them. The issue
extends to the ethical level in which the publisher should prevent the author
from making available his intellectual product, something I am sure galls Mike
more than anything else.
I say yes. This is only due to the right of publication an author agrees to to
a given journal; if an author does not wish to have his intellectual product
come under the geas of such rules, he should not submit to that journal. I am
confident that if a more lenient journal would be available, with less
demanding publishing costs (as before, a shift to virtual-print would make the
costs of submission to JVP MUCH more viable) -- or no costs, like PLoS family
journals, to which Mike has previously submitted -- such a route should be
A final statement:
Elsevier is a company, and it is corporate and capitalistic. It's only
interests is in this ability to profit off of its product, to which it holds
titles to various journals, many of which are premier in their fields. As a
publisher of science journals, Elsevier may be argued to be contradicting the
claim of availability of information, but Elsevier looks at it this way: The
information is available, you must simply pay for it. They do not have to make
their product free, and it is against their interests or their ability to do so
without potentially impairing their costs. I am not pandering nor supportive of
this motive. I would rather more journals be like PLoS than by Elsevier-group
journals, but it is insensical to claim that Elsevier _should_ do something
because of _science_. One has nothing to do with the other.
Jaime A. Headden
The Bite Stuff (site v2)
"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion
> Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2010 18:03:41 -0500
> From: email@example.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: RE: Koreanosaurus (regarding PDFs instead of forelimbs)
> My question is: why do scientific papers use for-profit publishers (such as
> Elsevier) AT ALL? Why not a nonprofit organization (Such do exist - like PLOS
> - but why does the other kind exist *at all*, much less be predominant)?
> Obviously there'd still be costs somewhere, but it seems that it'd
> necessarily be less without a profit motive. (Nowadays anyway. In the
> pre-Internet age, economies of scale mattered for publication, so it wasn't
> necessarily the case.)
> If one doesn't require print copies, the concept of a 'publisher' as in a
> company whose main work is publishing is entirely unnecessary - internet
> publication is too easy, with essentially zero startup cost, to require that.
> William Miller
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jaime Headden"
> To: "Mike Taylor" , "Dinosaur Mailing List"
> Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 3:23:38 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
> Subject: RE: Koreanosaurus (regarding PDFs instead of forelimbs)
> Mike, you wrote:
> < Right. Publishers are supposed to make money by, you know, publishing.
> Making available. Spreading the information around the world. It's pretty
> funny that many publishers now spend most of their effort in trying to
> prevent information from being published.>
> Publishers have to make money; they do this by marketing their items for
> sale, not for giving out free versions -- at least this is how it works for
> popular fiction. If they can meet their projected overhead, they can afford
> to push a free-market campaign to increase interest, but only if they project
> the item sells well (so they invest more money into the project by giving
> away product or underselling).
> You are forcing a product with a limited appeal and near mandatory publishing
> regime to run on the same marketing platform as Legos. That doesn't fly.
> Publishers of scientific magazines run on a different program than toys, and
> that includes the fact that they sometimes run at a loss, and continue to do
> so throughout their run (especially if they are only supported through
> donations and registration fees and dues, like several paleo and geo journals
> Jaime A. Headden
> The Bite Stuff (site v2)
> "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
> "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
> different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
> has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
> his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion
> > Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2010 19:04:24 +0100
> > From: email@example.com
> > To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> > CC: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; DINOSAUR@usc.edu
> > Subject: Re: Koreanosaurus (regarding PDFs instead of forelimbs)
> > On 20 October 2010 18:10, Augusto Haro wrote:
> > > 2010/10/20 Jonas Weselake-George :
> > >> Regarding redistribution of papers, some historians of science have
> > >> argued that the critical moment was when people stopped keeping their
> > >> knowledge secret (eg. alchemy's secret rituals) and started openly
> > >> publishing their work. Almost all other techniques followed after that
> > >> step.
> > >>
> > > I think publishers, as all the people in the world, have to live from
> > > their work and the money it produces, and thus have to be compensated.
> > > However, inasmuch as they do not starve because of people making pdfs
> > > free I have no objection to the latter procedure, but only praise.
> > Right. Publishers are supposed to make money by, you know,
> > publishing. Making available. Spreading the information around the
> > world. It's pretty funny that many publishers now spend most of their
> > effort in trying to prevent information from being published.
> > BTW., the best way to get a given paper -- especially new ones -- is
> > nearly always to email the author. I have never yet met an author who
> > wasn't delighted that someone's taking an interest in his work.