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Via Haldane’s Sieve, Genetics has a new preprint policy:


GENETICS allows authors to deposit manuscripts (currently under review or those for intended submission to GENETICS) in non-commercial, pre-print servers such as ArXiv. Upon final publication in GENETICS, authors should insert a journal reference (including DOI), and link to the published article on the GENETICS website, and include the acknowledgment: “The published article is available at” See for details.

Here’s a more thorough list of preprint guidelines by journal. For all practical purposes this means that population genetics can now percolate more freely among the masses. Many of the differences between “draft” preprints and the final manuscript have to do with formatting, etc., from what I have seen. So the content shall flow!


Why does this matter when so many people have academic access? First, you’d be surprised at the blind-spots that some major universities exhibit in regards to their journal subscriptions (often it is a function of various squabbles and attempts to renegotiate rates). Second, there are people outside of the formal academy who are interested in assorted diverse topics (this is evident in the readership of this weblog). There’s no need to gate this knowledge. These are not the Mithraic mysteries. Third, there are really bright young people who don’t have academic access because they aren’t in college yet. Why discourage them from whetting their appetite with abstracts, but keeping the full product locked up? My personal opinion is that we don’t have enough minds reflecting deeply on many scholarly questions. Access matters on the margin.

More specifically, I think the modest community of population and evolutionary geneticists is blazing a path where you can already see the post-paywall world coalescing before our eyes. I’m talking about < 10 years, with perhaps the process nearing completion by the end of 2013. With the combination of open access journals and preprints we’re seeing the landscape rearranging itself now. There will be some redoubts of the old order for years to come, perhaps AJHG, as well as de facto vanity journals. But it seems that the tide has turned.

I am more skeptical about the rest of biology, though I am hopeful. There are some substantive differences, in particular the relationships that biomedical science has forged with the private sector, complicating any default standard for liberation of knowledge. But much of the reason for my pessimism is due to cultural considerations. Many population & evolutionary geneticists and genomicists are familiar with the norms in physics and mathematics, because they come out of the world of physics and mathematics. These individuals serve as catalysts, promoting values, and bringing experience with a different system of knowledge propagation. Unfortunately these people are not as common in domains such as developmental biology.

Note: As always, if I blog a pay paper I will email it to you if you contact me and request.

• Category: Science • Tags: Genetics, Open Access 
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Here’s the announcement:

As of April 3rd 2012, we will cease to accept submissions to Nature Precedings. Nature Precedings will then be archived, and the archive will be maintained by NPG, while all hosted content will remain freely accessible to all.

Looking forward, NPG remains committed to exploring ways to help researchers, funders, and institutions manage data and best practices in data management, and we plan to introduce new services in this area.

We have truly valued your contributions as authors and users to Nature Precedings and hope that you will actively participate in this research and development with us.”

This comes on the heels of Dr. Joseph Pickrell’s first author submission of a preprint. Correlation? Yes. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.

In other news the existence and flourishing of arXiv puts a whole different spin on “physics envy.” And, just to reiterate, if I post about a paper, and you don’t have access email me and I will send you the paper.

• Category: Science • Tags: Genetics, Genomics, Open Access 
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Some strategies (H/T Michelle). Unfortunately the efficacy of many of these tactics varies by discipline, and it is often really hard to get a hold of something without academic access when it comes to the biological sciences. There’s arXiv and SSRN for physical and social scientists, but in the biosciences you have clusters of journals such as at PLoS and BioMed which are relatively exceptional archipelagos of easy access. If you follow one of the Eisen brothers you’ll also be made very conscious of the unfortunate fact that many a time papers which are supposed to be open access at mainstream publishing houses such as Nature are mistakenly gated because of the content management’s default settings. This technical sloppiness is rather galling because these publishing houses are often very vigilant about scanning the web (I assume via crawlers) looking for people who have put up “their”* content for free (yes, I know this from personal experience).

I have many smart and motivated readers who happen not to have academic access. It’s definitely a consideration when I want to blog a paper whether it is open or gated. Obviously I blog gated papers, but it does change the nature of the task when many of your readers aren’t going to be able to see the primary source themselves.

* I hope I’m not getting anyone in trouble when I pass on the reality that many of the original content producers often are excited when they see unauthorized distribution, because they’re thrilled that people care enough about their research to do this.

• Category: Science • Tags: Open Access, Publishing 
Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"