Sandy Thatcher feels “very uneasy about the massive postings of Green OA articles at sites like Harvard’s, which given that university’s great prestige may well lead to the widespread appropriation of those versions by scholars who find it easier to access them OA than to hunt down (and perhaps pay for) the final versions.” He should rest assured that we make every effort to make clear what version we are providing and where the version of record resides. We provide links to the version of record (when available) on the metadata page for each article (see here for a sample), and have even modified the DSpace software that runs our repository so that it provides users with links to the version of record on search results pages (like this) before they even get to the metadata page for the article. We provide citation information and links to the definitive version on the metadata page as well as on a front page added to the PDF for downloaded articles (for instance, this PDF). The PDF link is even clickable to go to the publisher’s site for the version of record. In short, we try to make it as easy as possible to “hunt down” the version of record.

Calling the mere use of an article in the repository an “appropriation” seems tendentious. To appropriate is “to take possession of or make use of exclusively for oneself, often without permission.” But in this case, there is nothing exclusive about the use of the articles, and permission is provided for. There is no inappropriate taking going on in DASH, or even in the Harvard OA policy, which allows for waivers of the license to Harvard. Publishers can feel free to institute and enforce policies to require waivers of the license for articles they publish if they fear that it might harm their business model — though few have done so. I expect many publishers appreciate that Green OA is not really the big problem for their business model.

On the other hand, I second the sentiment expressed by Dr. Thatcher that he “look[s] forward eagerly to the day when OA fully takes over the dissemination of scholarship…partly because it will solve the problem I have with Green OA now.” I agree that Green OA is a short term mitigation of an underlying problem that needs a fuller solution involving modifying the scholarly communication system in general.

Could this be the world’s most excruciatingly ironic conference?  The Second International Symposium on Peer Reviewing (ISPR 2010) is soliciting papers. Their call for papers emphasizes the sorry state of peer-review, calling for “more research and reflections [that] are urgently needed on research quality assurance and, specifically, on Peer Review.” What could be more reasonable than a conference to improve the quality of peer review and the standards of research dissemination?

The conference itself is part of the 14th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics: WMSCI 2010, and organized by the same institution, the International Institute of Informatics and Systemics (IIIS). Here’s the irony: IIIS and the WMSCI conferences are notorious for their lax standards for paper acceptance, as a cursory web search testifies. For example, Justin Zobel has described his experience in submitting three papers to the 2002 WMSCI conference, all three completely unsuitable for publication in any venue whatsoever. (One, for instance, consisted of alternating sentences from two other papers on different topics. Zobel’s excerpts of the papers form very entertaining reading.) All three were accepted for publication with no reviews or comments provided, even after repeated prompting. The WMSCI 2005 conference even accepted a computer-generated paper without review.

More suspicious signs: The conference charges a registration fee per accepted paper, not per participant. And presentation of the paper, even attendance at the conference, seems to be optional (but you still have to pay the registration fee). WMSCI’s hounding of researchers for papers is also legendary. It led to David Mazières, a computer science professor at Stanford, submitting a paper to WMSCI 2005 entitled “Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List“, complete with topic-appropriate charts and graphs.

Clearly, the organizers of the WMSCI conference and its many satellite conferences are not too concerned with optimizing peer review and solving problems with “research quality assurance”. Yet these are the very organizers of the 2010 International Symposium on Peer Reviewing. The cynicism undergirding this “symposium” is truly jaw-dropping.

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