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August 28, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 34


Letters to the editor


Open access

The editorial in the June 19 issue (C&EN, page 2) speaks about the used [open access (OA)] types (i.e., the well-known gold and green) but also mentions two rather new OA types (i.e., diamond and black/guerrilla). Initially I thought that the editor was referring to the so-called predator OA journals with poor refereeing (if at all), uncertain storage security, and very high handling charges when she mentioned black OA. Answering her question at the end of the editorial, I want to address another category.

Perhaps it should be mentioned explicitly that we know and often use one other, easily available category of OA, namely the FOC (free of charge) open access.

As any recent scientific article in any scientific journal is available (often only) through internet access and because any scientist wishing to access a recently published article needs to use the internet to go to the indicated site for a (free) download, there is also the possibility of using the legal and free method to obtain a PDF. Since a number of years, all publishers—at least in natural sciences—provide [for] all publications searchable on the internet the title of the article; the author names and e-address of the reprint author or corresponding author; and the abstract, if available, with the article.

So, if an individual or his or her institution has no subscription to a journal, a simple e-mail request to the corresponding author will be sufficient to quickly obtain a PDF (FOC). This approach has been and will be practiced on a large scale. Authors are always pleased with an interest in their work, and the connected increasing chances for citation, so very many of them, if not all, will send the requested PDF by return of mail. So one can even ask: Do we really need gold or green OA?

Jan Reedijk
Leiden, the Netherlands

From the web


Re: Lawsuits progress against Sci-Hub

Readers commented on Sci-Hub and ACS’s lawsuit online.

Elsevier brought a lawsuit against SciHub. That’s OK. We all know that Elsevier is a greedy corporation. We all know that SciHub is outside the jurisdiction of any US court.

But ACS? In what way does this action serve scientific progress? ACS is supposed to be [a] non-profit organization. This is really a disgrace.
Gabor Lente

Instead of wasting our money on lawyers, work on a solution that gives true reasonable access to scientific papers to the many research libraries … and scientists (university or public, academic researchers or “citizen scientists”[)] that cannot afford the exorbitant prices of research articles. You don’t like Sci-Hub, then offer a better solution!
Pedro M. Pereyra

ACS certainly has a not-so-good history of futile lawsuits to protect its publishing empire. The costs of publication by ACS are not at all transparent. The authors get nothing; reviewers get the same. Authors are sometimes required to sign indemnity clauses that are hardly reasonable. ACS should level with us about the itemized true costs of publication. That said, we do need trustworthy publishers. However much we may object to ACS pricing and policies, they run legitimate journals. If their copyrights are rendered worthless, they will not be able to continue to do so. Open access can’t seem to provide the same assurance of quality.
Roger Barth

The results of research that is funded by the public, which means tax payers money, must be publicly available and should not be hidden behind a pay wall. Period. I can’t applaud sci-hub enough for what they do for science. Even in a first world country like Belgium sci-hub is the only way to access publications that are essential for my research.
Mathias Glassner

This is why so many faked data can get through. Without open and free access to scientific data, only a few eyes get to see it and decide to review it. Science needs to be open and shared freely. It is for societies best interest.
Christina Matlick via Facebook


Aug. 7, page 28: In the cover story, “Supporting mental health,” the date given for Jason Altom’s death was incorrect. He died in 1998, not 1988.

Aug. 14/21, page 46: In the “By the numbers” section of the Talented 12 cover story, we stated that Harry B. Gray was one of the six most common academic ancestors for this year’s class of rising stars. He is a common ancestor, but he is not in the top six.


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