Ed Kohler points us to a long, but fascinating blog post, by Stuart Shieber, a CS professor at Harvard, discussing the somewhat ridiculous copyright situation that many academics deal with in trying to promote their own works. I’ve heard similar stories from other professors I know, but this one is worth reading. Shieber points out the importance of academics getting their research published in journals, but how annoying it is that most journals require those academics to give up all sorts of rights – including the right to distribute their own research on their websites. However, he notes that most published academics simply ignore this rule, and you end up with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Even though they’re legally prevented from putting up a PDF of their work on their website, they do so anyway, and journals just look the other way.
Traditional journals and publishers make this deal required for authors, especially in the sciences. In medical journals, the NIH open-access mandate has opened up this to some extent, since it requires authors to get consent to put their article in PubMed Central. The restriction is understandable, though, given publisher’s old business models. But the world is changing, and journals – scientific and otherwise – are having to adapt.
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