Archive for the 'science' Category

The Web joins the fight against global warming


It seems that not only is the Web changing the world, it’s helping to stop the world from changing. Al Gore gave a speech via videoconferencing today to show how we can use the web to cut down on our contributions to global warming. (See an article on this here)

Class 13: Ownership and Knowledge (sorry for the oversimplification and longevity)


Can anyone “own” knowledge? Does the web make us think differently about the nature of ownership of information or expression?

Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences has passes a motion for Open Access to Scholarly Articles and Harvard Law School is considering a similar policy.

Junior faculty members consistently face the battle with tenure; the main requirement is to have an article published in a scholarly journal. Professors sometimes spend years waiting for an article to be published; one’s article must be accepted by a journal, peer reviewed and then published. Before being published an author must agree to a licensing agreement

Traditional Publishing Paradigm; author gives up copyright to journal

Stage 0: If the professor post working papers online. Most contracts restrict the author’s ability to direct students to working papers online. Well-accomplished journals will have contract that ensure that a previous work on the article cannot be made available author, but they are unable to control the SSRN.

Stage 1: Making of the License
Professor will give article along with rights to journal. In return author will receive intangible rewards including prestige and tenure.

Stage 2: Library buys article
Journal receives money from the library in return for a copy of the journal. Hardcopies are cheaper than online forms.

Stage 3: Professor 2 wants to use article for class
Journal receives money from the professor in return for allowing the professor to use it in his course pack.

Stage 4: Another author wants to put article in his book
Journal receives money from the author and the author is allowed to include the article in his or her book.

The traditional publishing paradigm benefits the journal much more than the professor. The market allows for the journals to conduct price discrimination. Journals are value added: they collect and present articles conveniently, have access to related work and know professor 2 in stage 3 for peer review. Faculty members have to pay for articles in stage 3 and are rarely allowed an allowance for their own article (Harvard Business School has recently allowed for authors to receive 100pdfs). While wealthy universities give allowances to their faculty for this purpose, sometimes students have to pay for the articles when buying for course packs. This is a case for journals ownership of knowledge.

University-Research relationship and Copyright law

Traditionally faculty is in work for hire contract. University split the money made off research, faculty remain happy and university will improve endowment and reputation. (Ex: Stanford benefiting from Google). As long as universities can assert rights from under copyright law, parties will usually bargain for a result that is beneficial for both parties. Although universities’ probably do not have rights to undergraduate work the line becomes fuzzy at the level of graduate work.

Open Access Grant Paradigm

Stage 1: License
Professor enters a contract with the university to grant licenses in return for the university giving the author access to the collection. University may make article open to the public. Old may still have control of the articles prior to Open access, but will not have exclusivity right to article not published under open access. All journals will have the same rights as before, but will reap less benefits then before

• Ex: FAS Open Access Agreement
o Nonexclusive (grant to as many people as the university wants and does not exclude journals)
o Worldwide
o Paid up (no additional consideration)
o Irrevocable (once the author contract with university: he or she may not take it back)
o Restriction on grant: right to distribute except for profit (exception under stage 3, where the professor uses an article in course pack)

Stage 2: Libraries
Libraries will continue to pay for journals, because they will be unable to receive the all the articles through open access. As open access grows, journals will receive less income from hard and soft copies.

Stage 3: Professor 2
Professor 2 will not longer be paying for open access articles in course packs

Scenario 1: Faulty may opt-out of Open Access under FAS and proposed HLS agreements

Some non-tenured professor may want to be published in elite distinguished articles and have the option to opt-out of open access. Deans want to keep their faculty happy and are glad to have there article published in elite journals A problem may arise if the dean does not want the article published in a particular journal. JP ask is this automatic waiver better and does this action violate the reasoning behind open access? Is the waiver better, because it saves on transaction cost? Is it easier for Harvard to take this stance because Harvard has prestige, that elite journals consider their value added.

Scenario 2: The effects of every faculty having open access

Will elite market-leading journals go out of business?

JP and class say no. Rather these journals will create a new business model. They may not be able to reap the benefits from owning the exclusive rights to articles, but they will still have exclusive rights to older articles. The Value Added that is intrinsic in journals remains: journals are a gateway and filter that separates the good from so-so articles through peer review. Elite journals may begin to compensate peer-reviewers, this may create overzealous reviewers and a push for more profitable work, but maintaining a good reputation of brand and of profession can combat these two pitfalls. A related example is CNN, Fox and MSNBC remaining in world full of bloggers. Although Carl Malamud is preparing a database the will put an end to companies profiting off of free government documents.…). Another alternative suggested is for elite journals to create scarcity as it relates to the relationship; professors may only peer review for certain journals. (For more understanding of compensation read Fischer Chapter 6 alternative compensation system).

Scholarly Societies

Forces Societies to focus on receiving income from conferences rather than journal.

Open Access Grant Paradigm for Harvard Law School

The difference between FAS and HLS is that law journals are mostly student run.

Stage 1: License
Law Journals receive several variations on the amount of rights they receive. Some journals may have exclusivity right for a year. While other produce a hard copy, sell a soft copy to an online index and put up a free copy on their website. In return professors receive subciters and prestige. In addition both side receive the features above in Stage 1 of Open Access Grant Paradigm.

Stage 2: Libraries
Law Journals receive money from the libraries when they buy hard copies or buy a access to an online index. In addition both side receive the features above in Stage 2 of Open Access Grant Paradigm.

Stage 3: Prof 2
If a professor is not a member of the open access community and the university has not opened the article to the public, the rate of the article is set by the law journal and determine by size and scope of distribution
How Does Open Access Affect Law Journals?

Considering the fact that most law journals immediately put up a free online version following release, the affect is small. Law Journals can still sell to indexes, because they make it easier for customers to access more articles through archiving and creating classifications. Law Journals have other sources of income. (Example: Harvard Law Review and the Bluebook and other journals have sponsors)

Arguments Against Open Access and Questions Remaining (by JP and the class)
• Could seriously damage student journals
o Smaller and newer journals who make money strictly off of book sales
• Law Reviews may require professors to submit waiver along with article, therefore they will not accept some articles
• Irrevocable
o What if some publisher wants to put an article into a book that he will sell for profit, but will not include article if he cannot reap the benefit
• Is there a problem with professors deciding to opt-out
o Will professors be judged on decision?
• Why do we need Open Access if most law journals already have online?
o Is there a values in saying that we want information to be free, to encourage other fields to do the same
• Want a deposit of knowledge

Further Reading
Jean-Nicolas Druey, “Information Cannot be Owned.” (an argument for free information)
Open Access for HLS…

Class 12 – Is Science Changing?


1:04 PM

The Final Paper

John Palfrey (JP): Notes that some people have begun asking about the final paper. He says to think of final paper in cosmic, David Weinberger sense, less literal and more filled with possibility

Three options

-Can be ordinary law school 15-20 page paper

-Take some bit of law and doctrine, analyze in terms of broad themes of class, propose something that has gone wrong

-Don’t do straight descriptive thing – e.g. comparison of act in two different countries through close reading

-Something speaking in some way to whether or not the web is different

-Can also do something less like a law school paper

-e.g. Could pick up cartesian theme and talk about why web is different without ever talking about part of doctrine

-but must say something, shoot for originality

-Could also do something that’s the equivalent of 15-20 page paper but is more creative.

-e.g. video testimony before FCC

-something using the web in someway, perhaps jumping off from one of the group projects

If category one or two, 20 pages, not absurd margins, not absurd font. Bluebook not required, but consistency required. Don’t be annoying.

What is the equivalent amount of effort for category three?

-JP is more interested in force of the argument, than in exactly what is done

-bounce idea off him

-If want to do something like Lessig 08, ask JP and he’ll ask Aaron Swartz (sp?)

Can be linked to class project, that’s a good thing. Engagement with issue over long period of time is a good thing

JP and DW would be happy to sit down and discuss ideas

Connection to clinical is desirable but not required

Discussion about Zittrain Class’s Work on Wikipedia

First, discussion about link sent around about Jonathan Zittrain’s class’s work on wikipedia.

Brief history

-For part of Zittrain’s class, an early assignment was to edit part of wikipedia. A week later they talked about dispute resolution on wikipedia and how that works. Assignment for the class to, with a group of others, pick a disputed article, post on the talk pages, and try to get that dispute resolved.

-Bunch of students decided to work on waterboarding article. Decided to take advantage of one person’s more extensive edit history, she proposed starting from defining torture and then going from there.

-Some people very actively follow this debate. They responded to the class’s edits. A couple of people in the HLS group responded to that. Some of those wikipedia editors who care a lot about this issue noticed that a bunch of people were all chiming in and that all accounts were created recently. Accused LT of being a sock puppet.

-Then argument moved to incident report section. LT responded by saying they were a bunch of students and pointed out wiki about the class (class wiki is now locked).

-The regular wikipedia editors noticed that it was a course project. Then question about whether they were meat puppets (collusion outside wikipedia)

-Some people also upset because felt like this was an experiment

-Counter argument was that isn’t it good to get these students involved

-Never actually touched the page, just talked about it on the talk pages

David Weinberger (DW): Is this wikipedia at its worst or its best?

-Different reactions by students

-Pretty impressed with the whole thing. All transpired over an evening. Cooler minds prevailed and whole thing became rational very quickly.

-Public historical reference – Can see whole thing online, how it was resolved. And its fast too

-Also sees as wikipedia as it best. Probably same thing happens inside closed doors at Encyclopedia Britannica

-A little disappointing to see people keeping others from working together.

-Likes seeing fast response

-Doesn’t this result in not so great articles? At least at Britannica someone wins

-But things are muddled everywhere

-Good to at least recognize that there are differences.

-DW-doesn’t to be much debate over content for Britannica

-Student reaction-wikipedia encourages people to do further research

-Debate over “Georgia” on wikipedia – should it go to Georgia the state or Georgia the country, and if there is disambiguation page, which should be more prominent

DW: When it comes to the nature of knowledge, there really is a web difference. Web has done something significant to nature of knowledge

-Web has unsettled all knowledge, just about. Not just wikipedia. Can’t help but run across unsettling facts, even if you dismiss them. Nothing is as settled as we thought it was. Not nearly as sure that science has changed as much

JP: Is this just a problem of seeing the sausage being made?

DW: Could be that seeing the sausage being made we see how great it is or that we become suspicious of all sausage. Either is possible and either is a change about how we generally think knowledge works.

Science and the Web Difference

DW: Nature – most prestigious science journal, at least in England. They’ve been very jealous of their reputation, but also aware of the web and quite interested in taking advantage of changes that are occurring

-Print version is very different.

-Forums, closer to a real time interactive dialog. Podcast, multimedia.

-Web site is more fun

-trying to spread their influence

-Its arguable that this populizing science is a difference

Nature Precedings

-pre-publication research and preliminary findings

Discussion of law reviews

-Whether it makes sense for other disciplines to be edited by professors, law to be edited by students

-Students more willing to look at footnotes

-Professors know more
-PhD Programs have far fewer students

What does open access mean to law reviews? Next week

Why peer review?

-What does it do?

-Gives legitimacy to paper



-Can prevent publication of novel/unpopular ideas

-Experts chosen are well-established. Because they’re well established, generally agree with dominant view

-see String theory – could all be wrong

Sokol affair-got purposefully bad paper through. Also MIT grad students got paper that was randomly generated into conference

JP: How is that different because of the web?


-Couple years old, open access

-Peer reviewed, try to keep rejection level high

-increases reputation so prominent scientists will publish there

-Results in a high price – rejects good papers

PLoS One

-Peer reviewed, but publishes anything that passes peer review

-A few years old. Grandparent of a lot of this.

-Started out as simple repository of papers.

-No peer review. Pre-pubication

-Imposed requirement a few years ago that must have some academic standing

-What does that mean?

-must be affiliated with an academic institution

-have published there

-OR be recommended be someone affiliated with an academic institution

-Why? Keep conspiracy theorists, etc. out

Any way to get advantages of peer review without limitations on time/energy?

-maybe let people comment.

-but doesn’t give same cache

-and any idiot can comment

Is the bias issue the same on the web?

-in world of paper, need some sort of regime of control to narrow the funnel. Peer review results in things that are legitimate, have status, and is fairly efficient.

-but on web, risk inaccuracy since hasn’t been checked.

-Tradeoff between amount and quality

-DW-not clear we have to make decision on the web about what we’re going to do

-look at PLoS, PLoS one, and arxiv

-Don’t know this changes science

-we have access to more information, but not sure this is a fundamental change

DW:One possible area of change. How Nature has re-conceived its role in science’s effect on culture?

Harvard’s open access proposal


The NY Times has an article on an open access proposal coming before Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences. Should the way we evaluate and distribute scholarly research be <em>different</em> on the Web?

(I posted my personal opinion on my blog. Again, I’m not sure it’s proper for me to point to it, but I figure my blog’s public, so you could find it if you wanted anyway. And, let me say for the record: You are entitled to disagree. In fact, since my record of being right is pretty slim, you probably should disagree.)