Friday, March 04, 2011

Calling for Nature Publishing Group to return all money charged for articles that were supposed to be free #OpenAccess

Well, in case you did not see, yesterday I got really pissed off at Nature Publishing Group.  Short summary - many articles of mine that were supposed to be freely available on their journal sites were not.  For more information see
People from Nature Publishing Group have responded quite quickly saying they will look into this and try to fix it and indeed they have fixed many if not all of the mistakes in accessibility I found yesterday.  Glad they responded so quickly.  However, their response raises quite a few questions.  Like "what happened?" - as in - why did access get closed off?  And why were they charging to for article use when they should not have been?

It would be good for Nature to publish / post a full description of what went wrong.  And perhaps they will.  Apparently, it was just a glitch in the system.  Whatever the cause however, almost certainly some people paid for access for articles that were supposed to be freely available.  I am calling on Nature here to audit their systems and return all money that was paid for such access.


  1. I wonder how much (if any) money that would be? I always thought the per article prices for manuscripts were a bit ridiculous ($30 for a single paper?). But then again I have no idea how much revenue publishers get from per article charges. I know personally that if they were more reasonable (< $5), I would actually consider it every once in awhile. Also, knowing many high school science teachers they would also probably consider paying if the charge was more reasonable.

  2. Jonathan, you should up a service to check daily if your papers can still be downloaded freely, like this service that checks of some data repositories are still 'up':

  3. I can understand teachers being so naive as to pay for individual articles, but don't scientists know that they can merely obtain a pdf via a back-channel (i.e., from the author, from a colleague)? Yes, I realize that some of these actions may not be completely "legal".

  4. Jonathan, thanks for flagging this. We can't give an instant answer to your request, but will look into this. Please bear with us. (on behalf of NPG)

  5. Thank you! I was under the impression that something was malfunctioning with the Web site.


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