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Re: OA as provision against salami and double publishing

The term "salami publishing" is too delightful to want to do away with the underlying phenomenon, but it does seem to me that Dr. Meier is likely to be mistaken: open access will increase "double" publishing and salami publishing. OA will thus enlarge the amount of redundant material to be reviewed and reduce the productivity of research professionals. Only time will tell, of course, but in view of the march of OA, it is plausible to project a future situation where more dollars yield thinner results. I am personally resigned to an emergent OA paradigm, just as I am to the aches and pains of growing older, but I can't say that makes me like it it any better; it's a bad idea whose time has come. As Tom Stoppard memorably quipped, old age is a high price to pay for wisdom.

OA will increase salami, pepperoni, mortadella, and prosciutto publishing because it radically lowers the barriers to publishing, and it does this by eliminating one (only one) of the reasons that some articles in the benighted toll-access world never see the light of day, namely, there is no one asking, Is there a market for this? This is not the same thing as peer review (which is, thank god, market-independent), nor is this a matter of the distinction between so-called Green and Gold OA. Even in a Gold model more materials will get approved because there is one reason fewer to say no. Quality is a matter not of what you say yes to but of all the times you say no.

This error (the notion that OA somehow will improve quality and efficiency) derives from the mistaken view that things that are toll-access are somehow not findable. As Google Scholar demonstrates, however, toll-access material is eminently findable. "Readable" and "findable" are very different things. All the redundancies of the toll-access world can be found by Google and (more likely) Google's successors, but with OA, you now have a whole mozzarella of additional material to contend with. Comparing findable OA to "invisible" toll-access publishing creates a false dichotomy since toll-access publishing can be online, indexed by search engines, tagged in a multitude of ways--and findable.

So how can we prove this proposition to be right or wrong? We have to wait. As the amount of OA material grows, we will need to measure its utilization. One view (the Long Tail argument) is that all the new material that comes on board will attract a certain amount of attention. Another view (the Short Head argument, to which I subscribe) is that the greater the amount of information to be sifted, the more attention is placed on fewer and fewer items of the total distribution. The Short Head perspective explains why we have bestsellers, highly cited articles, and celebrities; the Long Tail perspective represents the wishful thinking of those seeeking 15 minutes of fame, immortalized in "Paperback Writer." And that's not chopped liver.

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message -----
From: <Joachim.Meier@ptb.de>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2008 4:28 PM
Subject: OA as provision against salami and double publishing

This mail of Hamaker adresses a consistent problem of scientific publishing: "double" (threefold, ...) publishing and "salami" publishing. Salami publishing is the practice of publishing almost the same content with minor changes / extensions in different journals / proceedings.

I remember from my own practice as scientist that one time I found four articles from the same author group, where the content of the articles (not the formulation of the text) was almost the same. In comparision to the oldest of these four articles the newest one revealed no new scientific evidence. As I ordered two of them by ILL, I was not very pleased to discover that this effort was in vain. To discover two very similar articles from the same author / author group was an often experience of mine.

Imagine you are looking forward to new evidence from the second article, but then you discover that it was too bad about the time it took to get and to read it. Well organized OA could be an efficient provision against salami publishing and double publishing. The earlier the preprint is available for open access the more efficient salami publishing and double publishing can be detected and prevented by peer reviewers.

The advantages are obvious:
-) peer reviewers save time, which they could invest into a more rigorous
review of unique articles
-) readers save time and money (in case of ILL or document ordering)
-) scientists save time to write articles of better quality
-) publishers save time and resources, as the number of articles to
publish will decrease or at least rise less than before OA
-) libraries may save shelf space in the case of printed volumes
-) libraries may save money if subscription fees will follow falling
publication numbers
-) database producers like CA, INSPEC, .. will save time for not to index
redundant articles
-) ...

These are arguments for Green Road OA and in that way GR-OA will never get superfluous. GR-OA has the potential to become an indispensable assistant for peer reviewers.

Joachim Meier

P.S.: As my English is far from beeing perfect, I hope that my text is not so faulty to be misunderstood. And to prevent some criticism: We (PTB, the National Metrology Institute of Germany) have signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, we run an institutional bibliography (http://www.ptb.de/en/publikationen/_publica.html) and we are working for an IR with OAI-PMH interface. ____________________________________________________

Dr.-Ing. Joachim E. Meier
Head of Library
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) (http://www.ptb.de)
PF 3345 Tel. +49-531-592-8131
38023 Braunschweig Fax. +49-531-592-8137
GERMANY E-mail: Joachim.Meier@ptb.de

"Hamaker, Charles" <cahamake@uncc.edu> wrote:

Researchers Suggest Rising Number of "Duplicate" Articles in
Medline Database


As if there isn't enough information to sift through on the web,
the journal Nature this week reported that as many as 200,000 of
the 17 million articles in the Medline database could be
duplicates, "either plagiarized or republished by the same author
in different journals."

Using text-matching software, researchers Mounir Errami and
Harold 'Skip' Garner at the University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center searched for "highly-similar abstracts" in a
sample of 62,000 randomly-selected abstracts published since
1995, finding 421 possible duplicates. "In general, the
duplication of scientific articles has largely been ignored by
the gatekeepers of scientific information-the publishers and
database curators," the authors note in their paper. "Very few
journal editors attempt to systematically detect duplicates at
the time of submission."

Medline indexes over 5000 journals published in the United States
and more than 80 other countries worldwide. The authors suggest
that "rising duplicate publication rates" is a global phenomenon
possibly driven by a number of factors including "the explosion
in the number of journals with online content, increasing
opportunities for unethical copying, and a body of literature
growing so fast that the risk of being detected seems to
diminish." Paraphrasing Dickens, the authors say that "in the
world of biomedical publications, 'it is the best of times, it is
the worst of times.' Scientific productivity, as measured by
scholarly publication rates, is at an all-time high. However,
high-profile cases of scientific misconduct remind us that not
all those publications are to be trusted."