Saturday, October 15. 2016
Open Letter to Professor László Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
[hyperlinks added, not in original letter]
14 October, 2016
Dear Professor Lovász,
We, the undersigned members and doctors of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences [HAS], representing a variety of world-views and academic interests, hereby wish to express our concern about the antidemocratic processes that have been taking place in Hungary in the last few years, especially the threat to freedom of the press. We consider it highly damaging to amend Hungary’s constitution to diminish the role of checks and balances that is normal in democratic states and to exploit the refugee crisis to arouse xenophobia.
In addition to the deep crisis in education, research and the health system, we are particularly troubled about the nationalization of the public media and their use as government mouthpieces, along with the liquidation of the existing independent press, as in the restructuring of Origo, and, in the last few days, the closure of Népszabadság.
We consider it important that, as a prominent embodiment and forum of our nation’s intellectual sphere, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences should be playing an investigative role as well as implementing substantive debate about these matters of concern for the whole of society. Our concerns are particularly reinforced by the letters that have been sent to the President of the Academy by external and honorary members in the last few days. The significance of the issues raised is underscored by the fact that these respected scholars, concerned for Hungary’s future, have elected to resign as members to protest the inaction on the part of our Academy.
We hence respectfully request that the President see to it as soon as possible that the leadership of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences initiates discussion toward committing itself to launching scholarly investigations as well as conducting debates concerning these urgent issues facing Hungarian society.
As our letter concerns important matters of public interest, we are simultaneously making it public.
(signatories in alphabetical order)
[Translated by David R. Evans]Ács Pál, literary historian, HAS Doctor
Tuesday, July 16. 2013
"Remaining a fair player, The Royal Society ensures that published open access articles bearing a publication fee are deducted from subscription prices through its Transparent Pricing Mechanism"The Royal Society thereby pledges that it will not "double-dip" for hybrid Gold OA. The RS continues to collect subscription fees from institutions worldwide, but whatever additional revenue if gets from individual authors for hybrid Gold OA, it pledges to return as a subscription rebate to all subscribing institutions.
But does this mean the RS is a "fair player" insofar as OA is concerned?
Yet this is not because the hybrid Gold OA rebate amounts to individual authors' full payments for Gold OA subsidizing the subscription costs of institutions worldwide. (The author's own institution only gets back a tiny fraction of its authors' Gold OA fee in its tiny portion of the worldwide subscription rebate.)
No. Whether the RS is indeed a fair player depends on whether RS authors have the choice between providing Gold OA by paying the RS that additional cost -- over and above what the world's institutions are already paying the RS in subscriptions -- or providing Green OA at no additional cost, by self-archiving their own article free for all online.
For if the RS does not give its authors this choice, then it is certainly not a "fair player": It is holding RS authors who want to provide OA hostage to the payment of an additional hybrid Gold OA fee.
From 2005-2010, the RS had a chequered history with OA.
In 2010, however, the RS came down squarely on "the side of the angels", endorsing immediate, unembargoed Green OA self-archiving of the author's final refereed draft.
But now -- perhaps -- the RS seems to have adopted a 12-month embargo on Green OA (under the fell influence -- perhaps -- of the new Finch/RCUK OA policy?):
"You are free to post…the “Author Generated Postprint” - Your personal copy of the revised version of the Article as accepted by Us… on Your personal or institutional web site and load it onto an institutional or not for profit repository no earlier than 12 months from the date of first publication of the Definitive Published Version."Or is this just another (silly) attempt to distinguish between authors posting on their "institutional website" (unembargoed) versus posting in their "institutional repository" (embargoed) -- in which case RS authors can happily ignore this empty pseudo-distinction, knowing that their institutional repository is indeed their institutional website.
But the RS would do itself a historic favour if it dropped all this double-talk, unworthy of such a venerable institution, and lived up to its decree that:
"In keeping with its role as the UK's national academy of science, The Royal Society is committed to the widest possible dissemination of research outputs."by not trying to hold Green OA self-archiving hostage to sustain the RS's subscription revenues at all costs.
There will be time for the RS to go Gold at a fair, affordable, sustainable price, single-paid instead of over-charged and double-paid, as now (with or without double-dipping) -- after Green has prevailed worldwide and made subscriptions no longer sustainable.
But that will be post-Green Fair-Gold. What the RS (and other publishers, less venerable) are trying to use OA embargoes for today is to force authors to pay pre-emptively for pre-Green Fools-Gold if they want to provide OA, so as to ensure that their revenue streams do not shrink either way (subscription or Gold).
But shrink they must, because in the imminent post-Green PostGutenberg era, the only service the RS or any other research journal publisher will need to perform is the management of peer review. The global network of Green OA institutional repositories will do all the rest (access-provision and archiving) at not extra cost to the publisher (hence no grounds for an extra charge to authors or users either).
Caveat Emptor. And peer review alone costs only a fraction of what -- whether subscription, Gold or hybrid) are being paid now (with or without double dipping).
Hence the RS "Membership Programme" is -- like all hybrid Fools-Gold -- a Trojan Horse. Caveat Emptor
Monday, July 23. 2012
Swapping Subscriptions for Hybrid Gold "Memberships": A Trojan Horse from the Royal Society of Chemistry
The seemingly selfless offer from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to pay Ł1 million in hybrid Gold OA fees for its authors at institutions that subscribe to all the RSC's 72 journals is in reality a totally self-interested strategy for locking in RSC's current publishing revenue streams should the research community prove foolish enough to seek OA via the slow and costly route of paying pre-emptively for Gold OA instead of providing cost-free Green OA by self-archiving their refereed final drafts free for all online.
The hybrid Gold "membership/transition" strategy is not new: The same Trojan Horse offer has been made by Springer (but with little uptake) for a few years now, with a promise to lower subscription fees "proportionately" as hybrid Gold uptake rises.
The irony is doubled (and along with it the foolishness of researchers who fall for this option) by the fact that both RSC and Springer have already formally recognized their authors' right to provide immediate, unembargoed Green OA. See: SHERPA/ROMEO
Thursday, May 24. 2012
The Hungarian government has ended (without apology) its FUD campaign against philosophers that had been critical of the government (the "Heller Gang"). Investigation over, no evidence of wrong-doing, all charges dropped, case closed. Yet the FUD campaign succeeded in doing its intended damage. That's what FUD is for...
And the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has suitably disgraced itself, for betraying its historic mandate and refusing to stand up for its members -- as announced by it President, Joseph Palinkas (former minister in the present Hungarian government).
Wednesday, February 23. 2011
On January 28, the Open Letter to the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Joseph Palinkas, had asked:
"...that the Hungarian Academy of Sciences take a prompt, prominent and unequivocal public position in support of the research and researchers thus attacked, and against such empty, ad hominem attacks, to which every scholar and scientist in the world is vulnerable, if they are allowed to metastasize unchallenged."On January 31 Professor Palinkas's subsequent press release stated:
"It is the authorities who are licensed to uncover infringements of the law and to take action, within the framework of the law, against the perpetrators of such infringements. It is the role of the members of the press to provide public opinion with information on all this in a credible and balanced manner, and at the same time to avoid unjust accusations and pre-emptive judgments…On February 4, the AAAS ScienceInsider reported:
"In a 31 January (in Hungarian), the president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, physicist József Pálinkás, called for restraint -- '[W]ork in progress is threatened by unprofessional and ill-considered comments, and by deliberately generated political mud-slinging, be this from the world of academia, from public administration, or from the activities of the media.' -- But in an e-mail exchange today with ScienceInsider, Pálinkás seemed to backpedal."It is this backpedalling that the Open Letter must resolutely persist in trying to prevent.
Professor Palinkas has since replied to the Open Letter. A response to Professor Paslinkas's reply has also been sent, closing with the suggestion:
"... that what the Hungarian government needs to do now is to focus on trying to reform its deformed funding system, rather than on trying to take revenge on its critics for the deformities of the old system." [full reply to Professor Palinkas appears below]The AAAS ScienceInsider article is the first English account to have given the developments the international attention they sorely needed. I hope that together with our Open Letter this will now generate far more intense external scrutiny, far and wide.
If it does, it will have rendered Hungarian science and scholarship -- and indeed worldwide science and scholarship, as there is no dividing frontier there -- a great service.
Concerned scholars and scientists worldwide are invited to make their views known at: http://bit.ly/SciHung
Dear Professor Palinkas,
Thank you for your reply to the Open Letter.
Let me begin by stating that even though it was not a response to our Open Letter of January 28, your public statement of January 31 has more or less expressed what the Open Letter was urging, and for that, many thanks!
"'To decide on matters of scientific truth, and to establish the scientific value of any particular research are in the sole authority of scholars'… It is the realm of the authorities to uncover breaches of law and prosecute transgressors within the framework of the law. The press should report on such cases to the public in a reliable and well-balanced manner, without unfounded accusations or foregone conclusions."There are six important points in your construal of the Open Letter that require some clarification, however. As the author of the Open Letter, I take full responsibility for its text, and hence for these clarifications:
1. Crimes and Politics. Let it be made clear from the outset that neither I, nor the text -- nor, I am sure, any of the signatories -- said, implied or believe that crimes should not be investigated and punished, in Hungary or anywhere else.
The real questions are two: (1) Have researchers really committed crimes (as widely accused, in some sectors of the press, of doing)? (2) And is the singling out of the accused researchers for selective criminal investigation politically motivated?
2. Laws, Rules and Enforcement. Apparently the crime (as confirmed in your letter) that the researchers in question are alleged to have committed is "self-contracting" (receiving grant funds through a private company instead of through one's institution, presumably in order to pay lower taxes on the sum received).
This practice would certainly be frowned upon in other countries, and would probably be illegal (or contrary to funding rules) in most. But the fundamental question is whether it is currently illegal or unruleful in Hungary, and if illegal or unruleful, are the laws or rules currently being systematically enforced?
I am sure that none of the signatories would disagree that if researchers are proved to have engaged in illegal or unruleful practices, the laws and rules should be enforced, and the penalties applied, according to the rules and the law.
But that does not quite answer the concerns about selective political motivation:
3. Selective Investigation. I hope you will agree that if it were the case that the practice of self-contracting was in fact widespread in Hungary (among the citizenry, including among funded researchers), and if the current laws and rules were unclear as to its legality, and not being systematically enforced, then selectively targeting specific researchers for investigation would be, as they say, "as easy as shooting fish in a barrel."
Under this hypothesis, the rightful target would be the current research funding system's rules and enforcement (which, in your own statement, Professor Palinkas, you have described as being badly in need of reform), and possibly also the laws of the land: not researchers singled out for selective retroactive scrutiny (for whatever ulterior reason, whether complaints about the size or merit of their grants, or opposition to the recipients' political or intellectual views).
4. Press Freedom. The Open Letter's reference to "dismay about curbs on press freedom" in Hungary today is based on reports that most of the world has seen, transmitted via the international press, about Hungary's new press curb law, which differs from, and is under criticism by, the European Union. What one also hears -- again via the international press -- is that this new press law will not be implemented until after Hungary's presidency of the EU expires in July.
This was the Open Letter's only mention or implication about freedom of the press in Hungary today. There was certainly nothing said or implied about the need to further curb the press! Rather, it was very explicitly stated in the letter that press exaggeration or misinformation should be ignored or corrected; in particular, in the present instance, where it spills over into the Academy, it needs to be publicly corrected by the Academy (which your January 31 statement has now gone a long way toward doing).
5. Academic Responsibility. It is a fact, though, that although Hungary's press is still free (at least for the duration of the current EU presidency), it is, and has long been highly partisan and polarized. It is also a fact that the attacks on the accused researchers issue from one pole of this highly polarized partisan press.
It is not a fact -- but a hypothesis with enough circumstantial evidence to be taken seriously -- that the partisan pole in question is highly influenced by the current government, and looks in some respects as if it has become the government's house organ.
The Open Letter was a request that the Hungarian Academy of Sciences take a principled public stand in support of the accused researchers against prejudgments and vilification from the partisan press (not a request to curb the freedom of the press, nor to obstruct justice).
You have now done that, Professor Palinkas -- though only coincidentally, a few days after the Open Letter was sent; not as a response to our Open Letter, which, as you note, you received only afterward. Your statement is of course just as welcome, regardless of what induced you to make it at that time.
6. Defending Hungary. Our Open Letter was certainly not an attack on Hungary -- a country of which the letter's author as well as all of its signatories are proud and fond, just as we are proud of the honour of being members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Quite the contrary, the concerns and the criticism (about the new press law and what looks very much like the selective targeting of critics) were of course about the current government of Hungary, which, even when elected by a 2/3 majority, is not synonymous with Hungary itself. The Open Letter, in both letter and spirit, was intended as much to defend Hungary as to defend its targeted critics -- as, no doubt, was your own January 31 statement – from the excesses resulting from its current extreme partisan polarization.
(As you note in your letter, Professor Dennett, one of the original signatories of the Open Letter, subsequently wrote that as a result of the "torrent of messages both condemning and supporting" his having signed, "I must withdraw my signature in order not to be drawn into this polarized atmosphere.")
I would like to close by seconding your own open statement of January 31:
"The social science research programme launched by the Government on my initiative in the framework of the Széchenyi Plan in 2001 was substantially retailored by the next government in 2002. It became professionally unfounded, financially illogical and legally vulnerable… It is our common interest that such a deformed, incomprehensible and counterproductive system of research funding should be transformed to normalcy. What is needed is an up-to-date, thoroughly transparent research funding system that provides a balanced support of basic research, technical development and innovation….The success of the work we have begun could be seriously jeopardised by artificially induced, amateurish, inconsiderate, politically motivated mud-slinging whether it comes from the areas of science, public administration, or from the media."I would add only the suggestion that what the Hungarian government needs to do now is to focus on trying to reform its deformed funding system, rather than on trying to take revenge on its critics for the deformities of the old system.
Sunday, December 20. 2009
The recent criticisms of ACM's stance on open access (OA) by Naty Hoffman (and others) are misguided. ACM is on the side of the angels regarding OA.
(1) ACM is Green. ACM is among the 51% of publishers (publishing 63% of journals) who are completely green on self-archiving. (ACM endorses immediate, unembargoed OA self-archiving of the author's refereed final draft in the author's institutional repository.)
(2) Locus of Deposit Matters for Mandates. For authors -- as well as for institutions and funders who are attempting to mandate OA -- it makes an enormous difference where deposit is mandated: Divergent central (i.e., institution-external) vs. institution-internal deposit mandates from authors' funders and institutions (2a) require multiple deposit of the same paper by authors, and thereby (2b) put funder mandates in competition with institutional mandates (needlessly handicapping and discouraging, especially, the all-important institutional mandates), whereas convergent inititutional deposit mandates by both funders and institutions reinforce and facilitate one another.
(3) Locus of Deposit Does Not Matter for Users. For users, it does not matter in the least where an OA paper is deposited (as long as the repository is OAI-compliant), because all deposits can be, and are being, centrally harvested, by multiple central OAI harvesters (like citeseer, base, oaister, scirus, google scholar, and the ever more powerful central harvesters whose creation will be inspired by Green OA deposit mandates) -- if only we help OA happen by grasping what is already fully within our reach (by supporting Green OA institutional deposit mandates, and those publishers, like ACM, that facilitate rather than obstruct them) rather than over-reaching and insisting on more than we need now, only to continue to get next to nothing.
Yes, the interests of learned-society publishers like ACM -- and indeed those of any refereed journal publisher -- are not more important than the interests of research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, and the tax-paying public that funds the funders. But research interests are not well-served if we demonize even those publishers, like ACM, who are already on the side of the angels on OA, nor if we gratuitously over-reach instead of grasping what's already within reach.
Please send OSTP and President Obama the simple, convergent message that is guaranteed to bring us universal OA in short order, at long last: Mandate depositing the final refereed draft of all funded research into the fundee's own institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. -- No more, no less.
ACM -- unlike the other 49% of publishers -- is not standing in our way.
(And there is absolutely nothing wrong with ACM continuing to produce their fee-based Digital Library to try to compete with the free central harvesters of OA content, just as there is nothing wrong with ACM continuing to produce their fee-based proprietary ACM print and online editions of the journal articles to try to compete with the OA drafts [and to recover the cost of peer review]. The future will take care of itself, but please let us not keep holding it back by gratuitously insisting on more than necessary today.)
See also: "APA Kerfuffle Redux: No, ACM is NOT Anti-OA"
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Sunday, April 1. 2007
On Sat, 31 Mar 2007, in response to "Mobilising Scholarly Society Membership Support for FRPAA and EC A1," Fred Spilhaus, Executive Director, American Geophysical Union, wrote, in the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
"Were open access in the best interests of advancing science societies would be supporting it now."The purpose of Open Access (OA) is to maximise research access, usage and impact, thereby maximising research productivity and progress, in the interests of research, researchers, their research institutions, their research funders, the R&D industry, students, the developing world, and the tax-paying public for whose benefit research is funded and conducted.
"It is as hard for a society executive to know what to oppose as it is to know what we should be supporting on the OA side."The American Geophysical Union is completely Green on author self-archiving. That means it is on the side of the angels -- except if it is also lobbying against Green OA Mandates such as FRPAA or EC A1.
"Please don't characterize us with the commercial publishers."The Society publishers that are Green on author self-archiving and are not lobbying against the FRPAA Green OA mandate are certainly not like the publishers -- commercial or society -- that are.
"There is no other way those most interested in assuring that the record of a discipline is not lost can assure that will not happen except to do it themselves and that is why there are societies."I hope there are more reasons for learned societies to exist than just preservation, because preservation can and will be taken care of in the digital era quite expeditiously. I would say that there are still other reasons for learned societies' existence, such as to implement peer review and certify its outcome (with their journal name), to host meetings, perhaps to fund scholarships, to lobby (but not to lobby against OA!) -- and possibly also to sell a paper edition of the journals as long as there is still a demand for it.
"government can not be trusted to do so."Digital preservation need not be entrusted to government. Research institutions will preserve their own (published) article output, self-archived in their own Institutional Repositories (IRs). And for good measure (and backup) the distributed and mirrored IR contents can be harvested into various Central Repositories (CRs), including learned society repositories, if they wish.
But lest there be any misunderstanding, the purpose of the FRPAA Green OA mandate is not research preservation but research access and impact.
And the Green OA mandates that require direct central self-archiving in a CR (such as PubMed Central (PMC) or a funding agency CR) are not sensible or optimal. All self-archiving should systematically be done in the researcher's own institution's IR, the primary research provider. (The only exceptions should be unaffiliated researchers or those whose institutions don't yet have an IR; for them there are CRs to deposit in directly for the time being.)
CRs like PMC can then harvest from the IRs.
See: "Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How?"
"Funding agencies of all kinds operate in their own interest... None have a primary mission in the protection of the knowledge base;"The locus of deposit is a relatively minor issue; and, to repeat, OA self-archiving is not being mandated for the sake of preservation but for the sake of access and impact.
Public, tax-payer-funded funding agencies presumably act in the tax-paying public's interest.
"Academic institutions standing alone do not have the capacity to guarantee all knowledge."No one institution (or society) can, but a distributed network of them, with back-up and redundancy certainly can.
"Societies are one vital resource, academic institutions are another... One without the other is the woof without the warp, a flop."Agreed, but neither here nor there, insofar as the substantive issue under discussion is concerned, which is the passage of Green OA self-archiving mandates such as the FRPAA -- and overcoming publisher lobbying against them, whether from commercial or society publishers.
"Instead of shouting about the moral rectitude of OA and other irrelevant issues how about looking at the whole problem. The development and protection of the knowledge base needs to be optimized. Optimizing one aspect is likely to be deleterious in other parts of the system."No one at all is shouting about moral rectitude. The purpose of OA is to maximise research access, usage and impact, thereby maximising research productivity and progress, in the interests of research, researchers, their research institutions, their research funders, the R&D industry, students, the developing world, and the tax-paying public for whose benefit research is funded and conducted.
"Time, Price, Quality - Pick any two."Yes indeed: And at the same time: Mandate self-archiving, and self-archive.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
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