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News Government Takeover of All Scientific Publishing

  1. May 18, 2012 #1
    What would be the outcome of the US government taking over the entire Scientific publishing industry? If all peer review was funded by taxpayer dollars.? That's what I'm mostly interested in hearing about - the results, economic, political..etc of a completely government controlled scientific peer review system.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Apart from trampling on the First Amendment?
     
  4. May 18, 2012 #3

    Ryan_m_b

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    Not really sure how it would alter anything, the OP hasn't said too much about the government regulating what is published but rather funding it (presumably so it's free to read).

    I doubt that it would be beneficial for a few reasons; firstly it would be very expensive for little gain (most people don't want to and/or can't read scientific papers and of those that do most probably have access via institutions) and secondly how would they decide who to fund? I'm probably brushing up to what V50 was referring to here but suppose a crackpot journal applied for government funding what would happen? We'd have to establish criteria for credible journals whereas at the moment it is decided mostly on reputation. You've also got the problem of all the journals that aren't from your country, what about accessing them?

    In terms of free-to-read journals I think there would be positive effects by opening access but as I alluded the demographic is quite small.
     
  5. May 18, 2012 #4

    russ_watters

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    Funding is a first amendment issue. If I can't use my money to publish a magazine, the government is preventing me from speaking.

    This is similar to the issue with campaign finance limits.
     
  6. May 18, 2012 #5

    Ryan_m_b

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    The idea that political parties have a right to spend unlimited funds under "freedom of speech" is baffling. It just brings in plutocratic elements to your democracy. In systems with a cap no one is preventing you as a private individual raising awareness for a party but as a political party you get an equal platform a long with everyone else. Either way this is a bit off topic.

    Getting back to the issue at hand the government isn't preventing you from speaking if the situation is simply that you wont be accredited as a journal. If we posit a set up where there is a list of credited journals that the government funds and your magazine doesn't fit the criteria then you simply wont get funded. I'm not advocating this system at all but I think you're being over dramatic when you portray it as an attack on your freedom of speech.
     
  7. May 18, 2012 #6
    The idea that circulated in scientific community and what I heard of is that goverment already funds for profit publishing houses indirectly through institutions' subscripton. And as you have noticed correctly, the number of people that reads these jouranls is small and it is mostly done through institution subscriptions. So instead goverment paying for publishing through institutions, it can fund non-profit publishing houses directly and reduce costs significantly. Still it is just an idea, but it does not look that stupit to me. Regarding the question how the goverment will know that journal is not crackpot, I would say, in the same way that it does funding of research know, and knows if research is not a crackpot, by asking the scientists. And according to this idea noone forbids anyone to publish their journals, it is just a question of redirection of goverment fundings.

    And since these journals will be funded by taxpayers, they would be open access in the same way as scientific databases such as ncbi and others are open access that by my opinion will have positive impact on research and desementation of scientific knowledge.
     
  8. May 18, 2012 #7
    I believe that the point was supposed to be if the government controls all scientific publishing that means that others as individuals, and groups, would not be allowed to publish without consent from the government thereby reducing freedom of speech (and, in a sense, the press).
     
  9. May 18, 2012 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    I guess we have to wait for the OP to come back and explain his point as I did not interpret it this way.
     
  10. May 18, 2012 #9
    Is freedom of speech not completely different than reporting of conclusions following sceintific research, reproduceable, reproduced and controlled.

    Do you have the freedom to speak that in your opinion things are different than that research? Sure you can but it should be worthless if you can't produce supporting evidence.

    I think we need publicers that only publish what is figured, not what is supposed to be proving a desired policy. For that independence is needed, like in the trias politica idea. But that's probably an utopia
     
  11. May 18, 2012 #10

    Astronuc

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    Of the Big 3 in scientific/academic publishing (Reed Elsevier, Springer Science+Business Media, and John Wiley & Sons), which account for 42% of articles published, one (John Wiley) is based in the US, the other two are in London and Berlin, respectively. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_publishing#Publishers_and_business_aspects

    There are several others outside of the US as well.
     
  12. May 19, 2012 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    My comment is simple. If the government takes over ALL scientific publishing - emphasis is the OP's - that means that nobody besides the government can be in the business of scientific publishing. That's what it means.

    Having the government telling people that they cannot publish something clearly runs counter to the First Amendment. Having them do that based on content even more so.

    You could perhaps get around this by replacing the word "all" with "some", but since the OP not only wrote "all" but capitalized it, I'm going to assume "all" means "all".
     
  13. May 19, 2012 #12
    There are publishers outside the U.S., you know?
     
  14. May 19, 2012 #13

    Evo

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    There really isn't much point to a "what if" thread of this nature.
     
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