How Do you Want Your Information?


Hopefully you consider the Blog as a source of information, but how do you want that information delivered?

Do you want it in a Faberge Egg or a paper bag?

The paper bag costs $10 and the egg costs $5,000. Sure I know if it was a real Faberge egg it would be more, and $10 for a paper bag, you say I’m having a laugh, but the question I pose is a real question. I do work and I report it. However, if I put it in an egg it may cost $5,000 but in a paper bag the cost is $10. What should I do?

My boss would want me to get it in a Faberge egg because people will think the content is going to be good, and some people believe that because it is in an egg it must be good. But, if I put it in a paper bag I have $4,990 to do some work. What should I do? Remember you, the public are paying that $4,990, as it is coming from your charity or more likely from your taxes. Is this a good use of public funds to pay a publishing company who laughs all the way to the bank. This is the system created in your name.

The idea of open access was created by the countrie’s, or America’s, great and the good, who advise the government(s). The idea was that the public should be able to see the research they supported. However, they didn’t think it through. Indeed charities like the MS Society say they want the research they support to be open acess but they won’t pay for publication fees. However, someone has to pay because this is the system they created. Open access costs money and each paper output has to be paid for and the going rate is $1,000-$5,000. Your charities demand that $1,000-$5,000 is slipped into a publishers pockets for each output. Doees it cost that much to type set a paper and hold it on a server? Not really, but business is business.

Now we have a rogue publishing industry that churns out often rubbish and can print money and laugh all the way to the bank. Stuff goes open access but does it ever get read by the public?. I suspect the answer is no. Do you read the papers we link our posts to? I suspect in most cases the answer is no, but in your name maybe $2,000 has been given to the publishing house. Now there are two types of open access. Gold is when the paper comes out open access from the minute-go. Then there is green open access where the paper is embargoed (often 12 months) before it can be put open access. These are typically the typed manuscript before it is type set. This costs nothing, except what it costs the univeristy to do this. If you look at our publication lists there are links to these files. The upshot of the open access system is that it gives the pharmaceutical industry free access to the academic literature which they used to have to pay for.

The next revolution will be the “pre-print” site (where you park your paper before it is published). This is coming and no-one has paused to think this through. Is this the next publishing cash-cow maturing? You betcha. Soon you will pay for open access and for housing on a pre-print site. Won’t someone say “Schtop”. Think it through. Create a cost-effective system that puts! research money into research.

Anyway back to my story. In addition we have to think abount the content of the papers

In terms of yhe publication, it could be gold dust or not so good and if there is SH1 in the faberge egg, would you want to pay $5,000 to read it. However, if there is gold dust in a paper bag would you believe it?

Should I pay $10 for the paper bag when you know it really costs $0.05

Do you want to look at a paper bag or a beautiful egg?

This is how the publishing world of science is going, there is no regulation and no guidance:-(.

British Library Next to St.Pancras station in London

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. The British Library’s purpose is to make our intellectual heritage accessible to everyone, for research, inspiration and enjoyment.

One of the key statutory duties of the British Library under the British Library Act 1972 is to make our services “available in particular to institutions of education and learning, other libraries and industry”.

By law, the British Library and five other major libraries are empowered to collect a copy of every significant UK print publication from publishers.  This system is called legal deposit.  As of 6 April 2013, legal deposit extends to material published digitally and online, enabling the Legal Deposit Libraries to provide a comprehensive archive of the UK’s published material, including websites, blogs, e-journals and e-books.  These new regulations will enable the British Library and other Legal Deposit Libraries to preserve UK published Open Access content.

This policy statement describes the British Library position in support of Open Access to research that has been funded from the UK public purse:

  • We support the principle that open access to publicly funded, peer-reviewed, UK research should be freely available within, and also beyond the academic research community, to benefit business researchers, life-long learners, citizen scholars and the general public. 
  • We believe that the wider accessibility of publicly-funded research, combined with flexible reuse conditions, will raise the social, economic and cultural impact of UK research.
  • We are committed to serving both researchers today, and future generations, by collecting, preserving and providing access to scholarly content.  
  • As the national library of the United Kingdom, we will collect and preserve in perpetuity UK-published open access research outputs.
  • We recognise that research is collaborative and international in its nature.   Therefore, we will enable our users to access the growing range of UK and international Open Access content by connecting to appropriate content through our discovery services.
  • We will work in partnership with other libraries, the research community and publishers in the UK and internationally in seeking out collaborative and sustainable solutions for Open Access

Now I wonder if this policy spans to Open Access sites held outside the UK?

Because sooner or later some of these sites will go bust and close and the question arises what happens to the publication record, does that go under too? I don’t know the scope of the British library to collect this work, Do you?

We go to get expense for open access publishing but do the papers get read. There are certainly many papers that don’t get cited, even when they appear in percieved good journals see below in Nature communications

The publishing system is broken but more on that some other time

Here’s something nice, I mean something from NICE

Multiple sclerosis in adults: management. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK); 2014 Oct 8

This guideline covers diagnosing and managing multiple sclerosis in people aged 18 and over. It aims to improve the quality of life for adults with multiple sclerosis by promoting symptom management, comprehensive reviews and effective relapse treatment. The guideline does not cover disease-modifying treatments. These are covered by the technology appraisals on the multiple sclerosis page of the NICE website.WHO IS IT FOR? Healthcare professionals. Social care practitioners. Commissioners and providers. Adults with multiple sclerosis and their families and carers.

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  • What you are talking about is absolutely common-sense. However, people are simple creatures and, depending on the area, we are all susceptible to Branding.

    In this case, it is the field of academic publishing. The main publishers – Springer, T&F, Wiley, Sage, Elsevier etc – go to great lengths to create a brand of credibility and authenticity. This saves potential readers having to look too hard. It is a shortcut for many as if it appears in a highly rated journal then it is considered by the majority that it has been accurately peer-reviewed and can be trusted implicitly.

    Scepticism takes a great deal of work, something many people are unwilling to do. This issue cuts across society. No name running shoes or Nike, Reebok, Saucony etc? A brand costs more but your money buys you peace of mind and shortcuts needing to analyse everything.

    Moreover, sh1t in a Faberge Egg is believed because of the packaging and not the content. This happens on occasions. The golden egg wrapper has imbued the sh1t with an untouchable aura which makes it far harder to challenge.

    The often closeted world of academia has a lot to learn from the wider commercial word at times.

  • Well I guess it wouldn’t matter paper Bag if you know the source is good . New online publishing companies I guess they had it difficult at the beginning 15 years ago or so but now some of them made it .

    • Yes PLOS and Froniters are main stream ,with PLOS raking in $38,000,000 last year, but they are non-profit so I wonder how much the CEO and founders are getting, however PLOS income is dropping as people are deserting PLOS ONE impact factor now about 2.3 down from about 5 and are moving to Scientific reports current impact factor 4. However once the preprint sites like BioRXiv come into the market PLOS will get seqeezed.

      Frontiers have an alternative, rather preditory approach of using you mates…however we all get suckkered in sometimes.

  • “Do you read the papers we link our posts to?”

    Oh, hell yes! In fact, I would be shocked if the great majority were not reading, downloading, copying, and incorporating those papers as an integral part of their education in hopes of managing MS successfully. For my household, what we have learned at this site and through the links provided has been truly priceless.

    Do we read the papers you link to your posts? We STUDY the papers you link to your posts.

    Thank you!

  • Nice post

    What about wikipedia?

    I am reading Baker et al

    Failed B cell survival factor trials support the importance of memory B cells in
    multiple sclerosis.


    • Wikipedia…:-). They have been asking for money for last few weeks, but they dont do papers…….yet

      I’m reading…..Nope that was first published in October

  • Yes, I read the links, out of curiosity and knowing that it takes on average 17 years for research to reach clinical practice and I cannot afford that time delay in regards to preserving cognitive health and physical health.

  • I read the publications you link to and am thankful for the open access papers. It frustrates me no end that many of the papers I want to read I can’t without spending a fortune. I appreciate when I know a solid peer review has been done because then I don’t need to try to evaluate the quality of the science behind the paper however a good peer review doesn’t help me if I can’t read it.

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