Research Remix

April 20, 2012

text-mining is the new front, ready to escalate issues triggered by RWA debacle

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heather Piwowar @ 6:17 am

Those aren’t my words.  They are taken directly from this April 20, 2012 report by Claudio Aspesi, Senior Analyst at BernsteinResearch, entitled Reed Elsevier: Is Elsevier Heading for a Political Train-Wreck?  (the upload was not by me, but it has been made open with permission of Aspesi).

Definitely worth a read. !.

Here are the text-mining bits:

Another controversy, this time around text mining, is brewing in the background, and could possibly further escalate the issues triggered by the RWA debacle. A new front in this debate may be brewing in the background, as academics are increasingly protesting the limitations to the usage of the information and data contained in the articles published through subscription models, and – in particular – to the practice of text mining articles. In this instance, once again, Elsevier is the focus of much of the outrage, regardless of whether other commercial subscription publishers do or do not adopt similar restrictions. The arguments which academics are putting forward could further inflame the Open Access debate by leading critics to conclude that commercial subscription publishers, in addition to charging excessive prices for accessing research, are hindering the work of researchers as well.

If the academic community were to conclude that the commercial terms imposed by Elsevier are also hindering the progress of science or their ability to efficiently perform research, the risk of a further escalation in the acrimony rises substantially.

Adding to the debate on prices the additional issue of commercial terms and conditions could prove counter-productive and lead to further turmoil within the academic community.

Elsevier also needs to ask itself whether what appears an obsession with maintaining a huge degree of control on both content and its access is the soundest policy anyway.

We continue to be baffled by Elsevier’s perception that controlling everything (for example by severely restricting text- and data mining applications) is essential to protect its economics

So.  Now is the time.  Elsevier and other publishers (who wants to look more restrictive than Elsevier right now???) do not hold the cards.  We do.  Go our there and a) assert you have these rights and begin exercising them, or b) negotiate for them to be explicitly included in contracts, depending on your views about the best way forward.  Make all decisions (and negotiations, if any) public.  Let’s do this.

ETA: clarification that asserting and negotiating are two different paths.  The articulation of what rights we expect is the same regardless of path.  Thanks to Peter Murray-Rust and Ross Mounce for championing the “assert your rights and go for it” path.

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