open access : Thank you American Chemical Society

In my reviews of the practice of Open Access (Author Choice in Chemistry at ACS – and elsewhere?) I pointed out that there were deficiences in access and labelling on Open offerings. I’ve now had a reply from Dave Martinsen:


Thanks for pointing out the problem in accessing ACS AuthorChoice articles. This was a technical glitch which is in the process of being fixed. Please be assured that it is our intention that AuthorChoice material is available without charge from the time it is posted on the web. We believe the solutions we’re putting into place will prevent this access problem from happening again.


David Martinsen
American Chemical Society

1155 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
d_martinsen AT work-it-out

PMR: Thank you Dave (Dave – as I have already mentioned – has been very supportive of new approaches to chemical informatics).
AuthorChoice is a “hybrid Open Access” product produced by the ACS. “Hybrid” only applies to publishers (and sometime specific journals) that are primarily closed (Toll Access, pay-to-read) but where authors may purchase “Open Access” for their specific article. (Many OA publishers require all authors to pay to publish). Every publisher has a different name for their hybrid products and almost all of them offer different rights and restrictions.
As I have said before, the quality of delivery of hybrid Open Access (and related products) is often poor. They are not well labelled, the navigation is poor, and the rights – if any – are often vague and contradictory. Hybrid offerings (as with the ACS) often still require the author to transfer copyright and do not allow full re-use of the article.
I am not (here) criticizing hybrid OA per se (though personally I think it is a distraction and is likely to be ineffective in every way). Nor am I concerned (here) with the price level, though I personally would not believe that I get good value from many publishers (as I require full permissions, including author retention of copyright). What concerned me here was that the reader (and thereby the author) was not getting what they were entitled to.
It is very clear that the OA community MUST insist on clear labelling and must police the practice. Many “OA” publishers are creating unacceptable offerings – either deliberately or probably through laziness and lack of commitment (I call this systemic failure of the industry). I had not intended to embark on any campaign and I am glad to see that others at Berlin5 are interesting in putting in place more formal mechanisms. For example we need a system of labels – but that’s not my story to tell.
I don’t actually like attacking people (institutions are slightly different). Sometimes my role appears to be that of a gadfly. I didn’t know why people use this particular analogy so looked it up in WP and found Gadfly 

Gadfly” is a term for people who upset the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or attempt to stimulate innovation by proving an irritant.
The term “gadfly” was used by Plato to describe Socrates‘ relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse. It was used earlier by the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 46 of his book. The term has been used to describe many politicians and social commentators.
During his defense when on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato’s writings, pointed out that dissent, like the tiny (relative to the size of a horse) gadfly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high. “If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me,” because his role was that of a gadfly, “to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth.”

PMR: I’m delighted to know the etymology (or rather the usage). And Perhaps that is sometimes why I like the Socratic approach – posing questions which require definite answers rather than generalities. But, ahem, although it grows here I really don’t like hemlock.

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