09 November 2007

"Publishing in the New Millennium" - First Panel

"What publishing model best serves us as we move forward?" - Emilie Marcus

Time for the first panel (out of two) at "Publishing in the New Millennium" at Harvard Medical School, examining the state of scientific publishing. Each panelist gets five minutes to introduce themselves and to identify a few key issues.

The panelists:
Emilie Marcus - Editor-in-Chief, Cell Press; Editor, Cell -- here to offer her thoughts on changing publishing models and peer review, subscription based business models v. author pays (a model often employed by OA journals).

Stuart Shieber - Professor, Harvard University - OA advocate

Shieber posits the following questions: Would it be a "good" thing for all journals to be Open Access journals? Two separate questions , he identifies: Which of the two scenarios are better (subscription based / journals funded through publication charge)? Even if you thought it'd be better for the majority of journals to be OA, would the disruption, dislocation, costs, etc. that would overwhelm the benefits of getting there?

Can we get from here to there in a way that doesn't cause a massive disruption? Shieber thinks this is where we should focus our attention / discussions, rather than OA as a static notion.

Address notion of threatening editorial independence - vanity press (take money to reduce its standards), since quality / standards vary on payment, with higher payments correlated with lower standards.

Robert Kiley - Head of Systems Strategy, Wellcome Trust - a veteran of OA meetings.

Kiley starts off with providing a bit of background on Wellcome's OA policy. All research papers funded by the Wellcome Trust must be made freely available in either of the PubMed Centrals in 6 months of less. Two ways to comply, 1) Make it the publisher's responsibility to deposit the article, 2) Some publishers don't have such a model, but do allow for authors to self-archive their work, often after an embargo. If a publisher offers neither, authors can suggest the journal's copyright agreement, or ... worst case scenario, find another publisher.

Making this research available, helps improve the research process by maximizing the impact of the research output. Can programmatically search, use bots etc, taking advantage of text mining and SW technologies. This can only be done if the full-text, I repeat FULL-TEXT is made available.

Wellcome, like Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), sometimes shoulders the cost for the publisher to deposit the scholarly work in PMC or UKPMC.

In order to promote OA to the research community, need to better articulate sharing mandates, consider linking OA policy to data sharing policies, provide the infrastructure for papers to be deposited, reassure the community that its the intrinsic value of what they have published that's mroe important than where the article is published.

Asked to comment on the relationship between OA and peer-review - Terry doesn't believe there is a relationship. Peer review is a function that the publisher organizes.

Issac Kohane - Director, Countway Library

95% of our output, output that we as scientists are allowed to submit, is being put into PubMed Central. Kohane says one would not get any pushback from the publishers for submitting to PubMed Central, so why don't people do it? People just do not have the time (KT: among other reasons).

As a librarian - friendly librarian will help. In a relatively short amount of time, matter of a few years, make sure that the only barrier is "us" - working to ease the transition.

What are the other information inefficiencies?

OA will create a shift in our ecology, Kohane believes.

A few questions to highlight (My fingers can only type so fast :) )
Q: Does OA provide any solutions to publishing negative data?

A: Kohane - Only cure he can think of is create a journal, such as PLoS One, where those studies can live.
Marcus - Science is an evolving pursuit. Fine line between saying something is wrong and something has changed. It's hard to isolate out papers to say specifically that an idea is wrong without saying that something is right, shedding light on the direction that one should go in. Issue with negative data - difficult to make a case out of negative data - high barrier. Confidence that something exists because you cannot see it is much different / more difficult than saying something exists because you can see it.

Q: Varmus - Want to address the question "Can authors be hurt if they post their article in PMC?"
Would argue that journals need their authors and dont have much ammunition for their reprisal, but authors need the editors and need them to smile favorably on them. The point is that the number of journals have sent out notes basically threatening their potential authors / discouraging them from participating in this effort ("this effort" being contributing their article to PMC and adhering to NIH's request for submission).

Marcus - Cell does make its content accessible on PMC 12 months after submission.

Next: The final panel - "Publishing 2.0" - featuring Moshe Pritsker (JoVE), Hilary Spencer (Nature Precedings), John Wilbanks (Science Commons / Creative Commons), and Bora Zivkovic (PLoS One) ...

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