Today is a day to be annoyed with Nature (Publishing Group that is) #NatureFail

Yuck.  Am getting really pissed off right now.  It is 1:30 AM.  I am tired.  And I am now angry.  I was writing a post about a recent trip, and wanted to link to an article I was a coauthor on.  The article was the paper on sequencing and analysis of the genome of Arabidopsis thaliana.  So I googled "Arabidopsis Genome Initiative" and found the link to the paper at Nature.  And much to my surprise I found this waiting for me:


Why is that a surprise?  Because the genome paper is supposed to be freely available to all forever, under a policy Nature developed for papers reporting new genome sequence data.  I am tired or I would write more about the history of this.  But another time.

So then I looked for other genome papers I have published in Nature.  And so I looked for the Plasmodium genome paper.  And I got this:


Grand.  That one was supposed to be free forever too.

And so I looked at many others.  And for most, I got the same thing.  Not freely available.  If I were not at home, I would not have noticed this because I have access at work.  And I could get access at home by setting up the UC Davis library VPN system.  But fortunately I do not do that or I would not have discovered that Nature, not for the first time mind you, has turned articles that were supposed to be freely available forever into charge for access articles.  I know.  I know.  This is probably just some glitch in their system.  They really do seem committed to trying to make these available.  But clearly, the system either does not work well.  Or they are not committed to it.  Either way this is really annoying.  In some cases, the papers were sold to communities of scientists in part with the "These will be freely available to all forever" line as part of the sell.  I am deeply worried about my recent Genomic Encyclopedia paper which is also supposed to be freely available forever.  Right now it still is, which is good.  But how long will that last?  And I note, though Nature people have said they would try and fix it, Nature still incorrectly claims Copyright to that article on the PDF.  Personally, I like most of the people I know at Nature Publishing Group and like many of the things NPG does.  But this is getting really annoying.  And it just goes to show - the ONLY way to go it seems is full, complete Open Access which the journals cannot magically then take away.

9 comments:

  1. Jonathan, Not sure what is going on here. My guess is technical SNAFU rather than conspiracy. I'll try and find out.

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  2. Yes, completely agree that this is likely to be a mistake / web problem rather than nefarious plot. The person to contact to get it sorted is managing editor Nick Campbell, n dot campbell at nature dot com.

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  3. Jonathan, this is definitely a glitch in our system. We remain committed to making papers reporting new genome sequence data freely available under a Creative Commons license. We'll look into this and come back to you as soon as possible. Our apologies for the frustration this has clearly caused you.

    Grace Baynes (on behalf of Nature Publishing Group)

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  4. Well Done Nature for the quick and comprehensive response.

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  5. Jonathan, I've just checked the two articles you reference and free access seems to have been restored. I know you have been in touch with my colleagues, so you may already be aware of this. We are aware there may be other articles where this issue applies, and are working on that.

    Thank you for bringing this unintended glitch to our attention.

    Grace Baynes (on behalf of Nature Publishing Group)

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  6. Thanks Grace. Quick question - is there a person at Nature who is the contact person for this type of issue? It would be helpful to know, so that when/if it happens again I can inform them ...

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  7. You are very welcome. I've sent you a DM with the email address for the Nature Publishing Project manager. Grace

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  8. Note - see my follow up call for NPG to return any money obtained related to these papers

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  9. - the ONLY way to go it seems is full, complete Open Access which the journals cannot magically then take away.

    YES!


    btw, i just now checked your links and while some of them are free, i got the "purchase this article for $32" message for the plasmodium paper:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v419/n6906/full/nature01097.html

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