Therefore, here is a article on mafia. I hope that’s! Okay with you Have a great year. Love Excuse me. Can I use you setting N… Hello everyone and welcome in a new episode of “ dirty biology” Today, I’m squatting, the setting of the lads making “ Stupid Economics” a wonderful blog dedicated to the understanding of economics and of the modern world.
I recommend it, but that’s not the topic, we’re here to talk about the biggest science mafia you never heard about. It has such a big impact on scientific research and on the understanding of our world. It is barely known outside of the scientific sphere, and I think it is important to tell you about it, because you are involved in it as well. We won’t start with footstools from laredoute.Fr Obvious product placement, (, no ).
Let’s get started with two persons who fought against this mafia and one of them even died because of it. The first one is Alexandra Elbakyan known for the website: “ Sci-hub” she created. So the thing is, she noticed during her studies and her researches that getting access to scientific papers was hard. So if we observe how research works, researchers ask questions, try to answer to them through experiences or fieldwork, basically observations, and they do statistic, analysis and the whole result of their work is compiled in scientific papers.
It’s basically a PDF and this file. This PDF is generally charged, So Alexandra Elbakyan was like “. Well, I don’t want it to be charged. I don’t want to pay for knowledge”, So she created this website “ sci-hub”. So this is Sci Hub There. You need to put an URL. Alright, I’m looking for a charged scientific article, so I can show you how it works Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. What am I interested in today, Dunno.
.., Let’s type “ Youtube”, to see if there is any scientific article about Youtube. Perfect nice example a scientific article about the article recommendation algorithm on Youtube. So here we have all the authors who worked on the article recommendation system of Youtube and they made a scientific article out of it. If I click on “ get this article”, it charges me 15 $ to read it. Let’s put it that way, I am Alexandra Elbakyan.
I don’t want to pay. I take that url I throw it in here. I have the scientific article, The summary, the introduction, the equipment, the methods In the end. What Alexandra Elbakyan did was quotation marks, give everyone the chance to access research papers using a pirate website. Obviously this didn’t please the people who sell these scientific articles. We will come back to that and she ended up being sued over her head And now she’s staying in Russia so that she won’t have to deal with the lawyers that are asking her millions Alexandra Elbakyan, depending on who you ask, is either a research superhero, because There are people that believe that knowledge should be free And there are other people the people affected by this scientific articles, sellers who see her as a pirate.
That should therefore spend the rest of her life in jail. Another person who is pretty known for having fought against this industry of selling research papers is Aaron Swarts and I will just mention his name, but it’s because I think it’s important. He used to work at the MIT and he was caught uploading. Millions of scientific articles online and ended up with a huge legal procedure which condemned him to pay millions And well under the judicial pressure he committed suicide.
He basically became an icon of this movement of liberation, of scientific articles of liberation of knowledge. Okay, so now we’ve set up the basics. Basically, on one side, we’ve got a business that makes a lot of money. We’ve got people fighting against that business, using processes that are sometimes illegal, such as Sci-Hub And actually most of the scientists. I know use sci-hub every day because it is extremely useful, But now what I would like to explain to you is how this whole system works and how it impacts the lives of everyone, including yours.
So I already told you that scientists work on their researches and then make a scientific article out of them. Okay, This research is usually financed by the governement meaning by your taxes, So these scientists, once they’ve written their article, need it proofreaded, meaning that there needs be other scientists independant without conflict of interest that proofread and check the quality of the research.
That was done. If the methods are adapted, etc, This process is called “ peer, reviewing”, which really is the cornerstone of research quality. It’s what makes today’s research quality so good To get this proofreading process, Scientists send their scientific articles to what we call editors. Those editors are people that gather articles and forward them to other independant volunteer scientists.
Those volunteering scientists that have been chosen will proofread the thing and send back the corrected version to the editor. So basically, the editor is a coordinator that gathers articles that need proofreading, sends them to proofreaders and then gets them back format them. All of that is pretty much automatic And it puts them online on the website like Nature Science, whatever The thing that really grinds people’s gears is that once the editor puts that article online? Well, he sells it, Meaning that the editor gathers content that was produced thanks to government money.
He gets it proofread by volunteers, and then he sells this product, And this is where there is a huge problem. Many scientists believe that this should be a public scandal, But the thing is, since it comes from the research world, it’s pretty hard to transmit it to the public world *scratch scratch*. Most people don’t even know how research works. So imagine talking about the process of scientific publishing, it’s.
.., So there’s a report from 2005 from the Deutschbank that was talking about this publishing system as being a very weird system of triple payment, The government finances the research pays, the salary of the most part of The people that check the quality of the research and then buy most of these products Because most of the scientists that buy those scientific articles from other scientists, Well, they buy it with government money too.
So basically, the country pays three times for the same research. So that’s why I’m saying this affects you too, Because if you’re paying taxes or if your parents do well, you are actually paying thoses editors three times in a way, This very weird publishing system has consequences and one of them the craziest, is obviously that somebody is Making a lot of money out of this, There are several businesses that are into scientific publishing and one of them, the most famous, the one that gets the most criticism is called Elsevier.
It’s a business that made a margin of 37 % in 2017. That has a turnover of approximately three BILLIONS dollars and is therefore earning a shitload of money on research that is mostly payed for by public agents. It obviously causes some teeth-grinding *baby laughing*. The other consequence of this way of paying Is that… Research is not available to anyone In countries in which little money is invested in research.
A researcher that need a specific piece of information will need to pay 40 bucks if ever he wants access to it. Therefore, this system causes large inequalities because, as time goes by less and less money is invested in research in France, it is a huge problem that will probably be dealt with latter on this blog. Consequently, research organisms have to pay very costly. Subscriptions are starting to say “.
Actually, we don’t have the money anymore”. Therefore, if searchers had to rely only on the legal way to get access to other’s research. Well, they couldn’t, And that is why most searchers use “ Sci Hub” in the end And that system that can seem very weird, is here because of the matter at stake’s history. In other words, we carry this 140 years old luggage with us When we actually needed to send mails and we needed papers to be grouped in magazines we receveived by mail in that time.
Yes, this system absolutely made sense Nowadays with the internet. It does not anymore. Another consequence is that… Well, some journals have a better name than others and, for instance, publishing in’Nature’ or’science’ will have a greater impact. Litteraly called “ the impact factor” than publishing in the “ Journal of the Canadian arctic life”. I don’t know if this particular one exists, but there are tons of small research journals like this very local and that have absolutely no impact For a researcher managing to be published in “, Nature” or “.
Science” has a huge impact, But this hierarchy has a tremendous impact of the world of research. Every searcher is individually trying to be published in a journal with as much impact as possible. Well, you may try and make your results a bit more attractive in order to enhance your career evolution. Also, few are the ones that will tend to duplicate results from toher searchers, because there is no prize for the second one.
It is the first to make the discovery that will be gratified funded and get better jobs most likely, But being the one that repeats the result and proves that it works well…. Therefore, the whole system of searchers credibility, which is crucial for their careers, is strongly correlated with these private enterprises that make a ton of money in this process. Still, let me moderate a bit. I stay convinced that research is the best tool.
We have to understand the world and it works, But there is a soft bias because of those private companies and in a perfect world they wouldn’t exist, And that is why I use the word mafia. It is an intermediary that is unavoidable and that spoils public funds Put this way, searchers really look like bullied kids And that get bullied by a private company that is making them work for free And…. That’s pretty accurate *laughs*.
It’s accurate but…,… Searchers have reacted to this Among their reponses. There has been a kind of boycott of Elsevier’s products. As I said, Elsevier is the most criticised because they are the one making the most money But they’re, not the only one. There are much more, And one of these boycotts was entitled, “ the cost of knowledge”, and the idea is to stop purchasing scientific articles from them A manifest was signed, etc, and in 2016 a study trying to evaluate the impact of the boycott actually showed that.
.. 40 % of the manifest’s signatory that engaged themselves to boycott Elsevier had stopped this boycott and bought articles from Elsevier or even published in Elsevier news papers, Because actually we can’t do without That, really is the thing we need to remember. Private scientific editors became an essential intermediary. There really are ideas out there to change the publication system. Some are arguing for “ Open Acess”, which means that every publication is available for free.
The idea is to make knowledge free and researchers must pay to be published. There is also the “ Preprint” system, the researcher uploads his paper on a free access server before sending it to an editor. The point is, people are looking for alternatives, but for now it doesn’t seem to freak scientific publication. Industry out And companies like Elsevier, keep margin as hell and make a shitload of money.
So the thing is, researchers depend on this system for their own credibility. They need it, so they embrace it even if they despise the system they keep on participate. Just as in the prisoner’s dilemma, a psycology experiment, Two persons are locked up in two different cells and can’t communicate with each other And they’re told “. If you give the other one up and he doesn’t you’re free to go and he get a maximum sentence,.
” “ You give each other up, you both get maximum sentence” and if non of you give the other up, you get both of your sentences reduced And What happens most of the times is that each one gave the other up, But if they could organized if they could communicate, none of them would give the other one up and they would be released earlier In this case. As long as everyone plays the game, there will be a voluntary servitude and the system will keep going on “ Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed” Etienne de La Boétie I like quotes.
They make me, look smart,…, Nope And that’s the point. I’m trying to make Scientific research is the first thing we need to understand the world In general. Historically speaking, it works. We should keep in mind that, after all, this is a human world And there are mafias, thieves and people fighting them. There is people kinda passive, there are pirates, etc. Anyway, this is a truly interesting sphere, even from a sociological persective.
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