Talking about science, business, and fatherhood.Enjoy the DisruptionTumblr (3.0; @jasonhoyt) need to talk about the National Academy of Sciences<p>Last week, the President of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) came out with an opinion article in PNAS (operated by the NAS). <a href="">The opinion is “Plan S falls short for society publishers—and for the researchers they serve.”</a> </p><p>Missing from the opinion was an outline of what NAS has to gain if “Plan S” is not fulfilled. And while it went into some detail on how, in general, societies would lose out with “Plan S”  (<a href="">with arguably questionable math</a>), it didn’t explain why the NAS in particular fears it would have losses. A look at its financial statements shows an organization that is grossly overspending on non-charitable activities, even when benchmarked against similar non-profits. Out of every $1 the NAS spends, only $0.17 is going back out to grants and similar (non-research/mission related overheads are the bulk of remaining expenses - see figure 1). While the Gates Foundation gives back $0.84 of every dollar spent, and Wellcome Trust (UK) returns $0.71 of every dollar equivalent spent.</p><p>Of these three organizations, only the latter two (Gates and Wellcome) support PlanS and Open Access. One really has to wonder why the huge discrepancy in charitable spending, and whether there is a connection to the support for or against Open Access and PlanS. Taken to the extreme, if PlanS forced the NAS to close down (unlikely event, of course), then more money would in theory be available for research grants, as more efficient charities could take charge.</p><p>It feels like blasphemy to be saying that research could possibly be more well off if the National Academy of Sciences ceased to operate. It feels like heresy, because unlike most non-profits, the NAS was formed under a congressional charter. Other than its beginnings, the NAS is no different than other non-profits, however. It is independent of congress, just like all other corporations and non-profits. A congressional charter confers no special privilege or status, it is merely symbolic. Congressional charters for new non-profits were in fact stopped several decades ago. The NAS, like all other non-profits, has no official governmental function in the US, although the US government can and does call up the NAS for scientific direction (the US does this with other for-profits and non-profits as well).</p><p>What the congressional charter’s designation, history and naming has uniquely conferred upon the NAS is a legacy halo-effect with little oversight into how well it is operating internally. Like many bloated non-profits, it has painted itself into a corner where the cost of overheads and legacy spending habits has removed any ability to look to the future. It has become the proverbial deer in headlights too afraid to progress; Open Access and PlanS are the cars driving into the future about to run it over. </p><p>If the NAS fears it cannot survive this future, then what in the hell is it good for and what should be done about it? The problem seems to be the poorly ran NAS, rather than Open Access. The NAS looks like it is barely capable of surviving any environmental changes that it faces going forward. This is before we get into the irony of an organization with the mission of “furthering science in America,” and yet uses its own publications and platform that others will look to (without questioning) to shout down Open Access and other “challenges” it fears.<br/></p><p>When the NAS says it has concerns about Open Access and PlanS, what it really means is that its OWN tenuous financial stability is being threatened. This is not the same as threatening all of science, as we see with Wellcome, Gates, and other organizations that are able to thrive. The NAS mission also states that it is supposed to provide “objective advice to the nation on matters related to science.” If the NAS has become financially compromised, can we really count on it to remain “objective?” <br/></p><p><br/></p><img src="" alt="image"/><p><br/></p><p><b>Figure 1</b> National Academy of Sciences financials (Form 990 2016 most recent). Previous years are similar in terms of proportion of expenditures towards various activities.</p><p>The NAS had a total expenditure of $312.4M (line 19) in 2016 from the most recent available financials. Of this amount, $53.8M was spent on grants and other charitable activities (line 13). This amounts to $0.17 of each dollar spent going towards grants, etc (or $0.14 of each revenue dollar). Meanwhile $132.4M was spent directly on salaries and benefits (or $0.42 of each dollar spent). Line 17 shows “other expenses” totaling $126M. That sum includes $19.95M in travel expenses, $18.3M in “occupancy” or building rents, $13.2M on IT and so on. Only $8.4M went towards “Conferences, conventions, and meetings.”</p><figure data-orig-width="782" data-orig-height="540" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="782" data-orig-height="540"/></figure><p><b>Figure 2</b> <a href="">Wellcome Trust financials for 2018</a></p><p>Digging into Wellcome’s expenditures the available financials are more recent, 2018. Wellcome spent £781.2M in 2018, of which £638.1M went toward grants and research, etc. Of that £638M, £86.2M was allocated for support, which includes all overheads (salaries, travel, rents, etc). That left £551.9M for direct charitable activities, or $0.71 per dollar spent.</p><figure data-orig-width="1096" data-orig-height="896" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="1096" data-orig-height="896"/></figure><p><b>Figure 3</b> Gates Foundation financials for 2016 (most recent year available)</p><p>Above, Figure 3 line 12 shows total revenues for the Gates Foundation of $5.28B (that’s billion) and expenses (line 26) of $5.7B. Of the expenses, $4.847B went toward grants, etc (or $0.84 of every dollar spent).</p><p><br/></p><figure data-orig-width="782" data-orig-height="866" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="782" data-orig-height="866"/></figure><p><b>Figure 4</b> Wellcome Trust employee compensation</p><p>I didn’t want to get into individual salaries or compensation in the main paragraphs at the top. First, these are huge organizations and while salaries can be a lot, it isn’t clear that highly paid executives directly contributes towards the massive inefficiencies seen in the NAS. The 15 highest paid executives earned $7.8M in compensation, including $1.1M to the President of NAS. Of total expenditures, that is 2.5% for the highest paid executives ($132.4M for all staff or 42%). The Gates Foundation has similar levels of executive compensation, BUT as a total proportion of expenses its total staff expenditure is only 5.7% of all costs. The inefficiencies at the NAS are seen only when looking at all staff costs. </p><p>Meanwhile, figure 4 shows staff compensation (salary, bonus, etc) to Wellcome Trusts employees (it excludes the investment team, which has performance based salaries depending on investment income). Again, executive compensation isn’t the real issue, although the highest paid Wellcome directors are paid just half of their US counterparts at NAS. The real story is the efficiency of total staff expenditures. </p>, 28 Jan 2019 07:57:19 -0500The (usually) forgotten advice in startup advice<p>I’ve read two seemingly diametrically opposed startup retrospectives this week. Really, same goes for every week.</p><p>The first was a post-mortem of a startup failure that tried making <a href="">customized and crowd-sourced designer jeans</a>.</p><figure data-orig-width="1190" data-orig-height="458" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="1190" data-orig-height="458"/></figure><p>The second was a lesson on <a href="">getting turned down by VCs</a> from Justin Kan, founder of Twitch, which lets people watch others playing video games.</p><figure data-orig-width="1274" data-orig-height="386" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="1274" data-orig-height="386"/></figure><p><b>In the first instance</b>, the moral of the story as told by the founder is to do your homework, i.e. market research and validation before starting the business full-on and wasting six years of your life.</p><p><b>In the second instance</b>, Twitch, the moral of the story is to not listen to anyone who thinks your idea is crazy and persevere through it. Show the world!</p><p><b>Here’s what these two blog posts (and similar) usually forget to mention&hellip;</b></p><p>Both of those bits of advice are wrong and correct. Sometimes you can’t validate an idea ahead of time. Other times you can validate market potential, but the data may tell you to quit, when actually it could very well succeed. Or it could be the opposite, the market says yes this is a winner, and it turns out not to be. </p><p>So what the hell is one to do then?!</p><p>Really, there’s only one thing you can do - if your idea is uncertain and you decide to follow through with it, then become comfortable with that uncertainty. If you don’t have that risk appetite, then head the other direction and look for an idea with more certainty in the market (which will have different barriers of course).   <br/></p><p><b>Not every good idea is worth advancing, and not every crazy idea should be dropped. </b>The forgotten piece of advice is that you need to ask yourself how much risk you’re willing to take on board. And that’s unique to everyone. </p><p>Even for the seasoned and experienced, that can be a difficult question to honestly answer. So, look for parallels in your life where you were possibly biting off more than you could chew, its outcome, and how you felt about it. Validating your appetite for risk is probably the most important element to starting something. There’s risk in any business venture.<br/></p>, 03 Dec 2015 02:41:27 -0500startupsriskadviceproduct market fitSlack API users allowing gov’t surveillance are in breach of Slack terms!<p>Just spotted this as Slack has recently updated their API Terms of Service, though it may have been in there before this update?</p><p>Of course, faced with either jail time courtesy of the government or breaking Slack’s TOS, which do you think a developer would choose? Slack legal time just covering their arse with this clause.</p><p><a href=""></a><br/></p><p>9.1 Government Access: You will not knowingly allow or assist any government entities, law enforcement, or other organizations to conduct surveillance or obtain data using your access to the Slack API in order to avoid serving legal process directly on Slack. Any such use by you for law enforcement purposes is a breach of this API TOS.</p>, 28 May 2015 03:07:03 -0400slacksurveillanceapiDownload academic PDFs? You might get punched in the face<p>Courtesy of JSTOR. Well, hopefully not JSTOR as an organization, but at least one of their employees thinks you should get knocked out. That was just learned from a Freedom of Information Act request obtained from the Aaron Swartz saga. You can view all of the files obtained from the FBI, Secret Service, MIT, JSTOR, US Attorney&rsquo;s Office and others at <a href="" title="Swartzfiles" target="_blank"></a></p> <p><figure class="tmblr-full" data-orig-height="118" data-orig-width="500" data-orig-src=""><img alt="image" src="" data-orig-height="118" data-orig-width="500" data-orig-src=""/></figure></p> <p>The above is from page 4 of more than 3K pages of internal emails from, which is the non-profit responsible for the JSTOR digital library (whose mission is &ldquo;to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge&rdquo;). It&rsquo;s a couple of systems administrators communicating in the context of high download activity going on at MIT (which we later learn was Aaron Swartz downloading academic papers).</p> <p>Sadly, despite its mission, JSTOR  believes it is no longer capable of sustaining itself in the digital era without resorting to restricting access to knowledge. The Internet and World Wide Web, designed to spread information, have changed everything, sometimes ironically.</p> <p>For its part, JSTOR settled a civil suit with Aaron Swartz out of court, and later told the US Attorney&rsquo;s office in Massachusetts that it no longer had an interest in further proceedings. The US Gov&rsquo;t didn&rsquo;t stop, however.</p> <p>Getting punched in the face was the least of Aaron&rsquo;s worries. The FBI had much worse in mind for him (and succeeded in doing) for the act of downloading PDFs. It culminated in the unnecessary loss of his life.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s too much in the FOIA for any one person to really go through entirely, but <a href="" target="_blank">have a perusal of the documents</a> and let&rsquo;s remember what Aaron stood for, and that we can do better when it comes to being stewards of the world&rsquo;s academic knowledge. As <a href="" target="_blank">I&rsquo;ve stated before on this blog</a>, without Aaron there may have never been the motivation to start the journal <a href="" title="PeerJ - the journal" target="_blank">PeerJ</a>. News of Aaron in 2011 was the catalyst to finally say, &ldquo;Nothing about the outrageous costs in publishing is changing. What can I do?&rdquo; Thankfully Pete Binfield agreed with me and we set out to make public access to research faster, cheaper to produce, and most importantly free to download. No one deserves a punch in the face for pursuing academic knowledge.</p>, 11 Nov 2014 02:18:00 -0500Aaron SwartzfoiajstormitCHORUS is now live - how does it stack up to PubMed?<p>What is CHORUS and why is it important to know about if you&rsquo;re an academic? From the FAQ (bold emphasis mine):</p> <blockquote> <p>CHORUS (Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States) is a not-for-profit public-private partnership to provide public access to the peer-reviewed publications that report on federally funded research. Conceived by publishers as a <strong>public access</strong> solution for funding agencies, research institutions, and the public, CHORUS is in active development with more than 100 signatories (and growing). Five goals drive CHORUS’ functionality: identification, discovery, access, preservation, and compliance. CHORUS is an information bridge, supporting agency search portals and enabling users to easily find free, public access journal articles on publisher platforms.</p> </blockquote> <p>Only it fails in the one thing that it claims to support, <em>public access</em> - at least as far as I can tell so far. And this is the big worry we&rsquo;ve had all along, that a paywall publisher backed solution to the <a href="" title="OSTP" target="_blank">White House&rsquo;s OSTP </a>mandate would not work. For a critical overview of the concerns see <a href="" target="_blank">Michael Eisen&rsquo;s comments</a> from one year ago when CHORUS was announced.</p> <p><strong>Why isn&rsquo;t CHORUS working?</strong></p> <p>Let us jump right into doing a search. Here&rsquo;s an example <a href=";us-only=f" target="_blank">query for NIH funded research</a>. When I ran this search today (August 1, 2014) I got only 3,775 results. Hmmm. That can&rsquo;t be right, can it? Only 3,775 NIH funded articles? Moving on&hellip;</p> <p>The first result I got was to an article published July 2014 in the<em> American Journal of Medical Genetics.</em> Click the DOI expecting <strong>public access</strong>, and I hit a paywall. Oh wait, that&rsquo;s right - CHORUS also indexes embargoed research set to <em>actually be public open access</em> in 12-24+ months. Next several search results - same paywall. Not until the fifth result do I reach an Open Access article.</p> <p>OK fine. Perhaps it is reasonable to include a mix of embargoed papers with public open access papers - even though OPEN RESEARCH is in the name of CHORUS. I&rsquo;ll just click the filter for <em>actual public open access</em> papers and see my results. Hmm, unfortunately there is no filter for <em>actual public open access papers</em>. Ruh-rohs. </p> <p>And there does not appear to be any labeling on search results indicating whether a paper is <em>actually public open access</em> or still embargoed (for some unknown period of 1-2 years). Ruh-rohs again.</p> <p>Are we just seeing teething pains here? In some things for sure, for example only having 3,775 NIH results (when there are millions). It can take time to get all of that backlog from publishers (though I don&rsquo;t know why they&rsquo;d launch with such a paltry number). However, I don&rsquo;t believe the lack of Open Access labels or ability to search only for papers already Open Access (rather than embargoed) is a teething problem. That&rsquo;s a major oversight and makes you wonder why it was left out in a system designed by a consortium of paywall publishers. I can&rsquo;t imagine <a href="" title="SPARC" target="_blank">SPARC</a>, for example, leaving out an Open Access filter if they had built this search.</p> <p><strong>What else is wrong with CHORUS? </strong></p> <p>The above was just one technical problem, albeit a very concerning one. The main issue is the inherent conflict of interest that exists in allowing subscription publishers the ability to control a major research portal. As Michael Eisen put it, that&rsquo;s like allowing the NRA to be in charge of background checks and the gun permit database.</p> <p>In the title I asked, &ldquo;how does CHROUS stack up to PubMed?&rdquo; We need to make this comparison since one of the aims of CHORUS is to direct readers to the journal website, instead of reading/downloading from PubMed Central (<strong>PMC</strong>).</p> <blockquote> <p>Perhaps most importantly, CHORUS allows publishers to retain reader traffic on their own journal sites, rather than sending the reader to a third party repository.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><a href=""></a></a></p> </blockquote> <p>And if you believe <a href="" target="_blank">Scholarly Kitchen</a> then PMC is robbing advertising revenues from publishers and PMC is costing taxpayers money as a useless redundant index of <em>actual public/open access papers</em>. Let&rsquo;s not mince words, Scholarly Kitchen (and by extension the Society for Scholarly Publishing) believes that PubMed and PMC should be shut down. No one believes taxpayer money should be needlessly wasted, but it is a tall order to replace PubMed and PMC, so our expectations for CHORUS should be just as high.</p> <p>Unfortunately, it is clear from using the CHORUS search tool that I have far less access and insight into publicly available research. And while an open API is slated for the future, it is questionable whether it will be as feature rich as NCBI&rsquo;s own API into PubMed and PMC. </p> <p>CHORUS also fragments an otherwise aggregated index with PubMed. CHORUS looks to index only US-based federally funded research that is either Open Access or slated to be after a lengthy embargo. This means you still need to rely on PMC to find a non-US funded Open Access article. Clearly we still want that since it helps US researchers, right? Then why shut PMC down?</p> <p>CHORUS isn&rsquo;t free either. They&rsquo;ve set the business model up such that publishers pay to have their articles indexed there. Do you think publishers are going to absorb those costs, or pass it along to authors/subscribers? The fact that CHORUS won&rsquo;t index unless a publisher pays is rather scary; especially if CHORUS were to ever become the defacto database for finding research.</p> <p><strong>In Summary</strong></p> <p>I think CHORUS will improve over time, for sure. My worries though are the inherent conflicts of interest and that a major mouthpiece for CHORUS is calling for the removal of PubMed and PMC. I&rsquo;m also skeptical whenever I see an organization using deceptive acronyms. CHORUS is not a database of Open Research as its name suggests. At least not &lsquo;Open&rsquo; in the sense that the US public thinks of open.</p> <p>You see, if CHORUS can convince the public and US Congress or OSTP that research under a two year embargo is still 'open&rsquo; then they&rsquo;ve won. It&rsquo;s a setback for what is <a href="" target="_blank">really Open Access</a>. Nothing short of marketing genius (or manufactured consent) to insert Open Research into the organizational name. </p> <p>I think these are legitimate concerns that researchers and the <a href="" title="OSTP" target="_blank">OSTP</a> should be asking of CHORUS.</p>, 01 Aug 2014 07:22:00 -0400CHORUSopen accesspmcpubmedWhat have we learned about ourselves from the Eich/Mozilla controversy?<p>So <a href="" title="Mozilla blog on resignation" target="_blank">Brendan Eich has resigned </a>as CEO from Mozilla. From the words of Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, this wasn&rsquo;t a result of his past donation to Proposition 8 in California banning gay marriage, but rather &ldquo;<em>I</em><em>t’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting&hellip;</em><span><em>The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.</em>&rdquo; i.e. the controversy that this brewed was tarnishing Mozilla&rsquo;s reputation, trust, brand, etc. </span></p> <p><span>Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where no one ends up feeling happy. This got ugly on both sides. It is sad that the co-founder of Mozilla and the creator of javascript had to resign. It sucks, I&rsquo;m sure most of us had high hopes. At the same time Mozilla was being led by someone who wouldn&rsquo;t apologize for wanting to ban gay marriage, so people had every right to voice disagreement over that promotion. </span></p> <p>Now however, there is a lingering &ldquo;meta&rdquo; controversy over whether the way this was handled on both sides was wrong or right. Was the &ldquo;anti-Eich&rdquo; crowd <a href="" target="_blank">too vengeful</a>, too close to being what has been described as being a lynch mob, were they being hypocritical and intolerant? Were the folks supporting Eich being insensitive to a growing civil rights movement, misunderstanding what Mozilla represents, erroneously mixing a specific case with a hypothetical slippery slope?</p> <p>In the larger picture, these questions and issues exposed during the controversy are just one more signal that &ldquo;tech&rdquo; still has much growing up to do. On the one hand tech is dominating every industry and part of our lives. &ldquo;Software is eating the world,&rdquo; a quote from Marc Andreessen, which is often used to describe what is going on. And tech is still in its infancy or teenage years in terms of how long it has been with us, which brings challenges as it inundates our culture and organizational behavior practices. Tech is even influencing our politics now, as seen with Twitter in various countries, and the <a href="" target="_blank">SOPA</a> movement. Some say the tech community went too far with SOPA when websites blacked themselves out in protest, and of course the sexism that continually rears its head in tech is immaturity at its best.</p> <p>When you have something that is massively influencing every part of our lives, but is still immature, then it can only lead to more &ldquo;meta&rdquo; controversies like the Mozilla one. We (i.e. the community, public) simply just don&rsquo;t know how to appropriately react yet to these situations, it&rsquo;s going to take time to adjust to what tech in our lives means. Although I think most calling for Eich&rsquo;s resignation were proportionate in their response, their were outliers who went too far in how they handled it. There will always be people who go too far of course, but now tech can ignite these crowds in a blink of an eye and carry people with it who would not normally participate. That said, I&rsquo;m confident that as we grow to understand what tech means in our lives that we will resolve that issue in time.</p> <p>I think we would all be served well if a <em>post-mortem</em> was done for this particular controversy. And this increasingly common situation of how &ldquo;tech reacts&rdquo; deserves to be studied as a larger whole. There is an awful lot that we could learn about ourselves and tech in our lives. Important as tech and its social impact isn&rsquo;t going away, it will only increase.</p>, 05 Apr 2014 02:15:00 -0400controversymozillaculturesociologyThe most enlightening reveal of the Mozilla CEO controversy <p>A new exclusive <a href="" title="EIche - anti-LGBT hurts Mozilla" target="_blank">interview with anti-LGBT supporter Brendan Eich on CNET</a> shows that the controversy is not dying down. <a href="">My own thoughts</a> on why this is a bad choice as CEO for Mozilla Foundation were posted a few days ago. Since then, we&rsquo;ve seen three board members step down in conflicting reports stating they resigned in a form of protest, contrasting with Eich in the CNET interview and the remaining board stating they were long planned for. </p> <p>Needless to say, things are very foggy over at Mozilla and the future is still unclear. One thing is clear, however, that the leadership (CEO and Board) in fact is incapable of leading. Even if they now decide to fire Eich and replace him with a more forward-thinking CEO, it will be only because they&rsquo;ve caved after sitting back for weeks to measure public opinion; that&rsquo;s playing politics rather than leading. The Mozilla board I&rsquo;d like to see is one that knows what the right thing to do is from the get-go or decisively changes course if a mistake is made. What this controversy has revealed is that Mozilla plays politics, it doesn&rsquo;t lead. That paints a picture where the future at Mozilla will inevitably be filled with more mistakes.</p> <p>Mozilla doesn&rsquo;t share my values - both in terms of installing a CEO who doesn&rsquo;t support LGBT rights and in it&rsquo;s overall leadership characteristics. It&rsquo;s disappointing. I&rsquo;d like to see the remaining board resign and I won&rsquo;t be returning to any Mozilla products until that happens. </p>, 02 Apr 2014 02:58:48 -0400mozillalgbt rightsleadershipMozilla needs to skate to where the puck is going, not where it's been. LGBT rights<p>I just don&rsquo;t understand <a href="" target="_blank">WTF the Mozilla Foundation was thinking</a> on this one. It&rsquo;s akin to making someone a CEO who donated to segregation campaigns in the 1960s. You just wouldn&rsquo;t do that.</p> <p>Gay rights have not yet achieved the same acceptance as other civil rights have, but they will do so undoubtedly one day. And when that day arrives, and it already has in most of Mozilla&rsquo;s fan base markets, it is going to haunt the Mozilla Foundation even more than the decision today is doing. Mozilla looks to the future in all it does, except when it comes to its leadership apparently. The future profile of CEOs will not have anti-LGBT beliefs, and Mozilla needs to be skating to where the puck is going, not where it&rsquo;s been.</p> <p>What is really troubling is that the origins of the tech industry, the West Coast tech, were about tolerance and civil rights. Personal computers and related technologies were about freedom from oppression. For a tech non-profit to install an anti-LGBT CEO is completely 180 from why and how tech evolved from its early days. Technology isn&rsquo;t just about what you do, it&rsquo;s also about who does it. They go hand in hand.</p> <p>If this was simply an oversight that was missed in due diligence of the CEO&rsquo;s past then OK, but make the change happen. </p>, 27 Mar 2014 06:56:00 -0400lgbtceocivil rightsDoes the Google Cloud services price drop spell trouble for AWS? It depends.<p>With Google announcing massive price drops (<a href=""></a>) it has a lot of developers and tech managers re-thinking the use of AWS, Rackspace, etc. Certainly the $.026/GB of monthly storage and lowered compute engine prices make stiff competition. I am not convinced yet, however. </p> <p>First, depending on what one is trying to accomplish, the new bandwidth prices announced by Google are still more expensive than AWS once you reach a certain volume. For heavy bandwidth out users then, it may not make sense to use Google over AWS if pricing is your only concern. </p> <p>A larger issue is one of trust, and opinion shows many developers and decision makers are in agreement with me on this one. Google has failed users and developers countless times as it has pulled its APIs and services. Google has a one year notification term for its cloud computing services, but that can change, and one year is possibly not enough time if your entire business is structured around the service. The fine details of the cloud computing terms of use with Google could also give one pause compared to AWS.</p> <p>Further, AWS revenue accounts for ~7% of Amazon&rsquo;s overall business revenue. In comparison, the <a href="" target="_blank">Google cloud computing business brought in roughly 1.5%</a> of Google&rsquo;s overall 2013 revenue. That alone is enough to give me a second thought when considering trusting my business or computing needs with Google due to its lengthy history of pulling services. </p> <p>There are of course other reasons to distrust Google, which I won&rsquo;t go into now.</p> <p>AWS is likely to follow Google and continue dropping its prices as well. So, any prudent decision-makers should take a wait-and-see approach before jumping ship. And even then make a careful analysis (including future growth scenarios) of how your business or process actually utilizes the various cloud services to determine the real and future costs involved. </p>, 26 Mar 2014 05:48:00 -0400cloud computingawsgoogle cloudFIRST Act isn't the first to use doublespeak against the advancement of science<p>The Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act (<a href="" target="_blank">link</a>) is doublespeak for &ldquo;we&rsquo;re actually going to limit Open Access.&rdquo;</p> <p>The FIRST Act is yet another bill that is winding its way through the US Congress that despite making claims FOR science will actually reduce the availability of Open Access. Luckily the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has <a href="" title="SPARC" target="_blank">clarified the damage</a> that this bill would actually do to scientific advancement within the U.S. PLOS has done <a href="" target="_blank">another writeup</a> of the severe consequences this bill would bring. </p> <p>In the past similar bills such as the <a href="" title="RWA" target="_blank"><strong>RWA</strong> &quot;Research Works Act&quot;</a> backed by the Association of American Publishers and many paywall publishers have used this doublespeak. The Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States (<strong>CHORUS</strong>), a publisher backed proposal,  is another initiative filled with doublespeak, with the real aim to control access - not open it up. And more recently the &ldquo;<strong><a href="" target="_blank">Access to Research</a></strong>&rdquo; initiative from publishers does the opposite of what its title proclaims. It limits access to research in the digital age by adding a physical barrier and forcing you to travel hundreds of miles to a participating library instead of providing access in the convenience of your lab or home. </p> <p>What really fascinates me, however, is the continued use of marketing doublespeak in these legacy publisher proposals to <a href="" target="_blank">manufacture consent</a> and distort the facts for financial gain. That they are pronounced with a straight face each time makes me just a little sick inside that people like this actually exist. The opposite of heroes, value creators, and leaders. If you haven&rsquo;t noticed, these tactics grind my gears to the point of evoking a visceral emotional response.</p> <p>Now I&rsquo;ve looked to see who outside Congress is backing the FIRST Act by way of either public support or Congressional campaign donations and have yet to find a connection to the usual suspect publishers or associations. Please leave a comment if you do find a connection. </p> <p><strong>Update</strong></p> <p>As <a href="" target="_blank">Björn Brembs points out</a>, a number of paywall journals and publishers have donated to the Congressmen responsible for bringing the FIRST Act to the House of Reps. This is more than a smoking gun leading back to Elsevier, and a few other large publishers known for backing previous anti-OA bills. </p>, 12 Mar 2014 07:13:00 -0400FIRST Actscience policydoublespeakopen accessNeylon highlights another misleading survey - this one from NPG<p>Thanks to <a href="" title="Twitter" target="_blank">this tweet by @CameronNeylon</a> we see a very loaded question about Open Access licensing consequences from NPG. I should say also that there are a few other misleading questions from <a href="" target="_blank">this NPG survey</a> - which look to be as much as propaganda as (poorly designed) survey material. </p> <p><figure class="tmblr-full" data-orig-height="279" data-orig-width="500" data-orig-src=""><img alt="image" src="" data-orig-height="279" data-orig-width="500" data-orig-src=""/></figure></p> <p></p> <p>This seems to be the new scare tactic for anti-OA activists. Explain one possible commercial use case, one likely to offend or upset academics, while neglecting to state the many other reasons one would want to allow commercial re-use: teaching in academic situations (if the academic is paid that&rsquo;s commercial use), text/data mining for new cures, in certain cases physician&rsquo;s may hesitate to use or cite the research after developing new tools based on that information, etc.</p> <p>Maybe you have a moral reason to not want a biopharma giant to profit off of your Open Access article. Fine, fair enough, but that actually doesn&rsquo;t prevent them from using the information - facts can&rsquo;t be copyrighted. More often than not, the use of a Non-Commercial OA license (e.g. CC-BY-NC) has the opposite effect from what the author hoped to achieve. Peter Murray Rust explains this in <a href="" target="_blank">an excellent writeup here</a>. An NC license doesn&rsquo;t prevent the publisher you use from profiting off of the material, it won&rsquo;t stop pharmaceutical companies, but it does deter others with many legitimate use cases.</p> <p>Had all software development in the early days of the 60s, 70s, and 80s restricted commercial use then we wouldn&rsquo;t be here today discussing this. Open licensing with explicit reuse for commercial interests has been the foundation of software that powers a majority of the world&rsquo;s websites, and software that powers research activity in academic institutions. The parallels with Open Access articles and the early days of open sourced software are massive.</p> <p>For sure, all academics should be aware of the possible uses of their research, but the point is to make them fully aware of all use cases, not just a select few intended to scare. And we also need to understand that choosing a restrictive NC license may have unintended consequences as well. </p> <p><strong>Updated</strong> to add: Many, including the <a href="" target="_blank">Budapest Open Access initiative</a>, do not consider OA licenses with an NC clause to actually be Open Access. I agree with this position.</p>, 17 Feb 2014 05:13:00 -0500creative commonsopen accessIs Nobel Laureate Randy Scheckman being a hypocrite? Bollocks.<p>Whoa. Some serious debate flying around after the newly minted Nobel Laureate and Editor-in-Chief of <a href="" title="eLife">eLife</a> wrote that <a href="" title="The Guardian">journals like Nature, Cell, and Science are damaging science</a>. </p> <p>On one side you find the supporters, such as co-founder of PLOS and UC Berkeley Professor Mike Eisen, <a href="" title="Eisen">who hopes Randy&rsquo;s actions can inspire others</a>. In the other corner are the <a href="" title="Sigh">haters shouting hypocrisy</a>.</p> <p>The way I see it, Randy had two options:</p> <p>1. Say/do nothing at all, and thus inspire no one to take action.</p> <p>2. Do what he did.</p> <p>I&rsquo;m on Randy&rsquo;s side here. If we&rsquo;re going to start making the changes that are needed within academia then <em>someone must</em> speak up, even it comes laden with <em>ad hominem</em> attacks of hypocrisy and conflicts of interest. And note my own COI as a co-founder of the <a href="" title="PeerJ">Open Access journal PeerJ</a>.</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s examine the fallacies of the naysayers&rsquo; arguments:</p> <p><strong>1. Sheckman&rsquo;s words ring hollow because eLife, like CNS (Cell, Nature, Science), has a high rejection rate, even though it is Open Access. As editor-in-chief of <em>eLife</em> he has a conflict of interest and should not make such statements.</strong></p> <p>This argument is ignoring the actual message and its possible impact. Whether eLife is a luxury journal or not doesn&rsquo;t change the message being told. Same with the conflict of interest. Those are all separate issues from the message and how people can act on it.</p> <p>Additionally, it&rsquo;s naive to think that everyone boycotting CNS would all of a sudden 1) start publishing with eLife and 2) that other publishing options (PeerJ, PLOS, small society journals, F1000Research, preprints, etc) wouldn&rsquo;t grow.</p> <p><strong>2. Even if everyone boycotts CNS, it won&rsquo;t change things because the next three highest impact factor journals will replace them.</strong></p> <p>This is a <em>non sequitur</em> argument and the silliest one of all. It ignores the fact that if CNS <em>actually</em> did go out of business, then Sheckman&rsquo;s words will have achieved an f'ignly astounding result. Do these naysayers actually believe if everyone boycotted CNS that it wouldn&rsquo;t have other knock-on effects within the overall academic debate on impact factor? </p> <p>What would <em>really</em> happen if everyone were to boycott CNS is that our funding bodies, governments, academic departments, etc would take notice. It will have meant that academics&rsquo; habits have actually changed. That will lead to other changes. It won&rsquo;t just lead to the next three journals replacing CNS; that conclusion is unsupported as can be.</p> <p><strong>3. Sheckman can only say boycott CNS now that he has secured his Nobel prize after publishing more than 40 times in those journals. Younger scientists don&rsquo;t have that option.</strong></p> <p>This is an <em>ad hominem</em> argument. Again, whether Sheckman is being a hypocrite or not has no bearing on the message that things must change in order to improve scientific research. Whether younger scientists have the luxuries that Sheckman has now or not has no bearing on the message. The message is &ldquo;things must change.&rdquo;</p> <p>That we&rsquo;re now debating the merits of Sheckman&rsquo;s call means what he said is already having an impact. And let&rsquo;s remember that most hearing his message are not academics, but the public who are unaware of the issues at hand, but still have the power to change things through their elected officials.</p> <p>If a Nobel Laureate isn&rsquo;t allowed to state these things, then who is allowed? Reality is that everyone&rsquo;s allowed, but not everyone has the voice that Randy now has. He can choose to remain silent, or he can try to have an impact that perhaps may help eLife, but will undoubtedly help advance science and other publishing experiments that are sorely needed. A rising tide raises all ships.</p> <p>Finally, whether his words will have any real results at the end of the day or not isn&rsquo;t a reason to stay silent. When we&rsquo;re trying to push the boundaries we go into action knowing full well that failure is a possibility. If success were guaranteed then we&rsquo;d have no need for inspiration.</p> <p>Kudos to Randy Sheckman for having the courage to do what he did, despite knowing the heat he&rsquo;d take. That makes him more worthy of the Nobel than ever.</p>, 11 Dec 2013 09:30:00 -0500Randy SheckmanNobel PrizeBoycottsImpact FactorCNSeLifeWTF is up with Apple of late?<p>This <a href="">from the Guardian</a> discussion how the new iOS7 animations are literally making people ill. And the <a href="">Hacker news discussion</a>. And I tend to agree.</p> <p>Last year it was the iOS6 maps disaster (still one really). </p> <p>All in all, the design choices post-Jobs have been terrible. It&rsquo;s as if Apple has stopped doing user testing prior to release (if they ever bothered with Jobs). </p> <p>This is Apple (and possibly Jony Ive) - fail.</p>, 28 Sep 2013 10:01:00 -0400Appleuser testingThoughts on ALPSP and future of society publishers<p>I returned yesterday from Birmingham, UK and the 2013 ALPSP international conference. It was great to listen, to present, and of course nice that PeerJ won an award for its publishing innovation (we&rsquo;ll do a proper post about that on the PeerJ blog shortly). </p> <p>I spent some time talking with different society publishers and staff. This was new for me. My co-founder at PeerJ is much more seasoned in the publishing world than me - I&rsquo;m the outsider coming from more of a quasi tech/academia/academic software background. Thus, my perspective on the current situation facing publishing is probably refreshing, naive, flat out wrong in some areas, but dead right in other areas. Yes, I&rsquo;m qualifying what I&rsquo;m about to say next :) &hellip;</p> <p>If I had to choose one analogy to describe the state of publishing it would be a deer paralyzed in a beam of on-coming headlights. From numerous discussions at the annual ALPSP meeting, it became apparent that society publishers in particular are standing still in fear, unsure of which way to turn, or to make that risky move. From a high-level bit of questioning, it seemed many publishers didn&rsquo;t have the right mix of people in their organizations for the digital world.</p> <p>There was an interesting plenary session with Ziyad Marar (<a href="" target="_blank">SAGE</a>), Timo Hannay (<a href="" target="_blank">Digital Science</a>), Victor Henning (Mendeley/Elsevier), and Louise Russell (a publishing consultant). Ziyad and Timo seemed to have opposing perspectives on what a publisher today should be composed of or targeting. Ziyad was on the side of focusing on content, while TImo more on the side of focusing on the tech. That&rsquo;s a simplification, and both of them probably value and implement both in their orgs, but the extreme views are the two sides of what I see in publishers today. Those who do not have people in place, either through empowerment or directly though titled positions, to make technology a center piece of their organization risk being stuck in the headlights.  </p> <p>I&rsquo;ll be even more specific than technology, it&rsquo;s user experience. We can all blame Apple for this one too. It may not be dominant over content just yet, but it&rsquo;s coming, and those who do not have the tools and people in place will be left behind. This was missing in the organizations of many who I spoke with at ALPSP. And to do user experience right, you need to be focusing on the right technologies and the right product strategies,  with the right people. I gave a high-level talk on cloud computing and many commented how they just didn&rsquo;t have the people within the society to make it possible. That&rsquo;s a mistake, not because cloud computing is the answer, but because you can&rsquo;t then focus on building the tools needed to please the future reader, author, reviewer, etc.</p> <p>What&rsquo;s also interesting is that user experience isn&rsquo;t something new to publishing, it&rsquo;s been going on for 300 years. We think of publishers as just delivering content, but they&rsquo;ve been tweaking the layout and typography of that content for centuries to make it more legible, more comprehensible, etc. That&rsquo;s user experience. To make that happen today though requires people with different skill-sets than even a decade ago, and those people are either avoiding careers in publishing, not given priority, not empowered enough, or not even considered.</p> <p>Before Pete (PeerJ co-founder) and I announced PeerJ in 2012 I related to him a little research that I had done on PLOS and lack of technology focus. This came about because we wanted people to know how PeerJ would be different than what had come before. I went through the <a href="*/" target="_blank">WayBackMachine on the Internet Archive</a> to look at PLOS&rsquo;s website history. One thing stood out to me - it took several years before any tech-related people started to appear in the staff list and even today (like other publishers) tech empowered employees are not in positions of business strategy. I wanted PeerJ to make engineers equal to the editorial positions, and that&rsquo;s how we&rsquo;re different. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s needed if society publishers are going to continue. </p> <p>Really, it isn&rsquo;t tech versus content. They support each other, the only problem is that there are a lack of people in the position to make it happen today. Yesterday&rsquo;s typographers are today&rsquo;s user experience engineers, today&rsquo;s human-computer interaction experts, today&rsquo;s software engineers. That&rsquo;s what scared me the most in all of my conversations at ALPSP, the missing people. </p>, 14 Sep 2013 11:36:00 -0400user experiencepublishingALPSPCan someone fire this Pax brogrammer already?<p><a href="" target="_blank">Business Insider&rsquo;s CTO</a>, Sheesh. Meanwhile I&rsquo;ll no longer be reading BI.</p>, 10 Sep 2013 02:31:43 -0400Why aren't we doing more about the surveillance revelations?<p><figure class="tmblr-full" data-orig-height="327" data-orig-width="500"><img src="" data-orig-height="327" data-orig-width="500"/></figure></p> <p>That&rsquo;s the question I&rsquo;ve been trying to answer for myself over the last few months. One would think that without the UK&rsquo;s Guardian newspaper slowly publishing new information on a weekly basis that we&rsquo;d have already forgotten about the domestic spying, encryption disabling, etc from the NSA and GCHQ. It would have been news for a week and then turned over in a new cycle with more important headlines such as Mylie Cyrus and such. </p> <p>For sure, the revelations from Snowden have caused more debate and action in the U.S. congress (both House and Senate) than Manning&rsquo;s ever has (and in the UK&rsquo;s parliament). And that&rsquo;s something. But the amount of apathy from the general public is baffling. People are outraged, I know, but at the same time, we don&rsquo;t seem to be doing much about it either - hence apathy. A lot of shouting, but little action. It&rsquo;s really odd. Why aren&rsquo;t we doing more? That&rsquo;s the question I&rsquo;ve been struggling to understand.</p> <p>Lately I&rsquo;ve been thinking about <a href="'s_hierarchy_of_needs" title="Maslow" target="_blank">Maslow&rsquo;s hierarchy of needs</a> in relation to this question (diagram above).  There are a few caveats with the Maslow hierarchy (usually represented as a pyramid). The main caveat is that the <em>needs</em> can be fluid, i.e. some at the top may be at the bottom and vice versa depending on the location, culture, time, age, etc of the person. And to make this easier, I am categorizing all of the revelations that have come out from Snowden as <em>privacy</em>. </p> <p>As best as I can tell, Maslow would have placed<em> privacy</em> into the highest need or &ldquo;self-actualization.&rdquo; The highest need, shown at the top of the pyramid in blue, represents only 2% of the general population according to Maslow (remember too the caveats above). Interestingly, Maslow also considered &ldquo;self-actualization&rdquo; to be the future of humanity, i.e. the best that we could become. Those at the top have a need for privacy, not because you&rsquo;re hiding any thing in particular, but because you value it as an equal attribute to your creativity, your pursuit of intellect, and personal morality. In the strictest interpretation, those who don&rsquo;t believe in privacy don&rsquo;t believe in creativity, intellect, morality, ethics, etc either. </p> <p>It&rsquo;s a curious thing when someone says &ldquo;innocent people don&rsquo;t need to hide anything.&rdquo; Or similarly, &ldquo;the innocent have nothing to fear [about the privacy invasions].&rdquo; Such statements come from people who actually haven&rsquo;t achieved self-actualization for themselves yet. They&rsquo;re further down the hierarchy is one interpretation. Another interpretation is that they believe all people should be held to a lower level of that pyramid; i.e. you should only be as high as the weakest link. What&rsquo;s curious is that this is nothing new. We&rsquo;ve been subjected to this for thousands of years from leadership in republics, monarchies, totalitarian regimes, all of them. No large populous government has truly sought to bring about the highest level of that pyramid. </p> <p>If we were to measure government in terms of Maslow&rsquo;s needs, it would fall into the second to lowest category of &ldquo;safety.&rdquo; In thousands of years of human civilization we haven&rsquo;t really moved beyond that, which is another huge array of &ldquo;whys&rdquo; waiting to be answered. I think we see a glimpse of progression in the 4th amendment to the US Constitution (emphasis mine). </p> <blockquote> <p>The right of the people to be <strong>secure in their</strong> <strong>persons</strong>, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.</p> </blockquote> <p>For many people, metadata, phone calls, Skype chats, email, Facebook messages, etc are an extension of <strong>their persons</strong>. If you are not free to do these things <strong>securely</strong> then you are unable to attain &ldquo;self-actualization.&rdquo; You are being deprived of achieving more. But still, why are we, as a populace, not more angry? Why are we not doing more to ensure this security of our persons? I think an answer, and there probably isn&rsquo;t just one answer, is extremely complex.<br/></p> <p>In part, we can go back to Maslow&rsquo;s assertion that only 2% of the population have reached self-actualization. If this is true, then only 2% of the population is concerned about privacy. Put another way, that means privacy is not the primary concern of the population. Remember again the caveats from above, that the needs are fluid and not binary. Everyone, to some degree, is probably concerned about privacy, but it&rsquo;s not the <em>primary </em>need that they have. Looking at the list of needs in the pyramid above, things like food, shelter, jobs, love, friendship and others all come before privacy, intellectual pursuits, lack of prejudice, and creativity. And in fact, if you&rsquo;re in power and want to change the debate, the easiest thing to do is to tell people (and remind them) that they need to go to war (Syria), that the economy still needs recovery, that marriage straight or gay (love in the hierarchy) is a more important debate than privacy. It keeps privacy out of the debate, and with limited privacy you have more power.</p> <p>In effect, if 98% of the population doesn&rsquo;t consider privacy amongst their primary needs then action will be limited. I actually think more than 2% of us are in the &ldquo;self-actualization&rdquo; part of the hierarchy. However, I think we&rsquo;ve been deceiving ourselves about how filled those needs actually are. Once you fill the first two levels, it becomes more difficult to discern what the important things are (and again to each person there is fluidity in the needs). We are probably deceiving ourselves that access to Facebook, Google, television, etc are filling our needs higher up the hierarchy  And if we&rsquo;re deceived into thinking we&rsquo;re filled, then a small thing like the removal of privacy becomes less of a concern. Or focusing the debate on any thing but a &ldquo;self-actualization&rdquo; need will mitigate that concern.</p> <p>Imagine the reverse, where all you had were the first two levels filled, and only one thing at the top (the next three levels). How would you then feel if that one thing, for example privacy, were stripped away? You&rsquo;d certainly notice it more than if you had basically every other need filled. Perhaps this is why people from countries that are worse off than the US/UK/Canada/Australia/etc, seem to take more action in the news. They&rsquo;re barely at the second level of needs, sometimes at just the first level, and then they have things like democracy, freedom of expression, privacy (Zimbabwe, Syria, East Germany pre-1989, Somalia, etc) taken away. You had one thing available to you that represented the highest that humanity could achieve and it is taken away from you.</p> <p>Right now we are being deprived of the highest that humanity has to offer. We should not be merely satisfied that in the West we&rsquo;ve achieved the first two levels (and yes individuals in the West are suffering on levels 1-2 still). We shouldn&rsquo;t be satisfied that this is the best our governments have to offer. We shouldn&rsquo;t believe that we&rsquo;re still needing to go to war after 10,000 years of civilization (a level-2 need). We shouldn&rsquo;t be confusing comforts such as prime-time television and iPhones with our higher needs. I believe we can expect more and offer more to ourselves.</p>, 09 Sep 2013 12:21:22 -0400nsagchqprivacymaslow's hierarchy of needsIf it is less expensive, does that mean quality goes down?<p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t have high quality and inexpensive (affordable) open access fees&rdquo; - usually said in context of PeerJ.</p> <p>I keep hearing variations of this from stakeholders in the publishing industry. Typically it&rsquo;s coming from people with vested interests in maintaining the status quo, i.e. high margin subscription sales or high cost hybrid Open Access options. </p> <p>Is this true some of time? Yes. Is it true all of the time? Not at all. One needs to look no further than the Japanese auto industry as evidence of this. Honda, Toyota, etc. All cheaper, and near universally better products than their American counterparts. </p> <p>Being less expensive does not necessarily mean lower quality. It does suggest less greed, however. Value has nothing to do with cost. </p>, 06 Sep 2013 06:05:55 -0400value creationpublishingPeerJScience funding is borked: Part II<p>Previously I had argued in &ldquo;<a href="" title="Borked" target="_blank">Science funding is borked</a>&rdquo; that we should be giving out many more and smaller grants, similar to the 500 startups approach. </p> <p>Now in a new paper published in PLOS ONE and reported in <a href="" title="THE" target="_blank">Times Higher Education</a>, it seems that this argument is starting to gain some data-driven support. </p> <p>Here&rsquo;s the PLOS ONE paper <a href="" title="PLOS ONE" target="_blank">Big Science vs. Little Science: How Scientific Impact Scales with Funding</a></p>, 04 Jul 2013 05:48:00 -0400Science Fundingfunding agenciescitationsResearchGate to nowhere?<p>I&rsquo;m a little baffled by the recent <a href="" target="_blank">$35M funding round</a>, which included Bill Gates, for social network for scientists ResearchGate. And of course the media baiting quote from RG that <a href="" target="_blank">it wants to win a Nobel Prize</a> for its efforts.</p> <p>One look at the traffic stats tells you all you need to know as a potential investor. The graph below is from Alexa, which is known to undercount traffic, but it can be used to reliably compare competitors relative to each other. The redline is <a href="" target="_blank"></a> and the blue is ResearchGate over the past six months. Alexa ranks RG at the 5,433 most visited site, with at 2,686 most visited.</p> <p><figure class="tmblr-full" data-orig-height="302" data-orig-width="423"><img alt="image" src="" data-orig-height="302" data-orig-width="423"/></figure></p> <p>While RG claims to have 2.9M users, only a very tiny fraction of those are actives. Other traffic analytics stats confirm these numbers. My guess is roughly &lt;5% at most are active each month (active meaning visit the site at least once). Then there is roughly the same amount of non-registered users visting the site per month. Are at most 145K registered users (+150K non users) visiting the site per month, with no revenue other than a small jobs board, worth $35M in funding? This probably values RG north of $150-200M. I must be missing something, or else should ask for $70M in its next funding round.</p> <p>Then there is the value proposition. I fail to see any with RG. doesn&rsquo;t have a lot either, but certainly more than RG. A lot of scientists have also compared <a href="" target="_blank">Mendeley</a> to RG and, which definitely has value proposition to users, and never raised such a round. One could also throw in <a href="" target="_blank">FigShare</a>, which has some overlapping functionality and more value add, yet it has never achieved anywhere near such funding to date. </p> <p>Probably the biggest strike against such a large round however is researcher sentiment. I&rsquo;ve yet to meet anyone exclaiming RG as beneficial to their work (quite the opposite in fact with many reports of <a href="" target="_blank">spamming</a> and site scraping). On the other hand, I hear plenty of scientists talking about the value of FigShare, Mendeley, <a href="" target="_blank">Papers</a>, and even to their work. One has to wonder what kind of due diligence was done by the investors here.</p>, 06 Jun 2013 11:41:00 -0400CHORUS: It's actually spelled C-A-B-A-L<p><a href="" title="CABAL" target="_blank">CHORUS</a> is another attempt by subscription publishers to defeat Open Access. Probably <a href="" title="CHORUS" target="_blank">no better writeup than Michael Eisen&rsquo;s</a> of how deceptive the intent and logic of this plan is.</p> <p>CHORUS claims that it will save the US govt money if implemented, as part of the plan calls for the shuttling of PubMedCentral. The fallacy of course, is that costs to the govt (i.e. taxpayers) will actually INCREASE as publishers now have control of the &ldquo;Open Access&rdquo; content via a CrossRef like dispatching service. To maintain this dispatch service requires passing on the costs to their journal subscriptions &mdash; that ultimately means the libraries and agencies foot the bill.</p> <p>If this is really going to save taxpayers money, then why have the publishers that are part of CHORUS not provided a cost break down? Let&rsquo;s see the expected operating costs, charges to publishers to join this new organization, and the details of the API restrictions and practicality of retrieving the full-text for data mining. Then let&rsquo;s compare that spreadsheet to the cost of running PubMedCentral. But that&rsquo;s just the financial cost; more concerning is the cost of giving control of Open Access content to organizations whose business model is counter to the principles of OA.</p> <p>Are these APIs truly open? What happens if I decide to build an aggregator with this content that is supposed to be Open Access? Will I be restricted or charged for high volume access, because publishers are now losing eyeballs as researchers go to my aggregator search engine? Do we really want publishers in charge of the key to the only source of all embargoed Open Access content? How gullible do they think the Obama Administration is? </p> <p>CHORUS is a patronizing plan to researchers, libraries, and the American taxpayer. It&rsquo;s a coordinated effort to sustain subscription-based publisher revenue streams and falsely paint PubMedCentral as a waste of taxpayer money. It is not about innovating on Open Access content and expanding its accessibility.</p>, 05 Jun 2013 08:50:19 -0400chorusopen access