Update: 13 Aug. I've added a new post that I think provides a clearer explanation for the reason that this sort of behavior is such an irritant when it comes from a company like Elsevier.
Like most bloggers, I have an ego. I'm not mentioning that by way of apology, but as an explanation for why I was browsing through my sitemeter statistics last Friday. Every now and then, I head over to sitemeter, call up the view that lets me see what websites referred people to my page. If I see a link that's coming from a source I don't recognize, I browse over and look to see what people are saying about me. Yeah, it's sad. Yeah, it's shallow and self-centered. And, yeah, I know a bunch of you have your own blogs and do it too.
Anyway, I'm almost at the end of the list from the last 100 hits when I come across this link. I don't recognize it, so I click on it and I'm taken to this page. (I saved it as a pdf because I've got a feeling that it won't be accessible at the link for much longer.) That page contains the majority of a post about open access that I wrote a few weeks ago.
The vast majority of the content on that page was written by me. All but the first 13 words in the "comment" at the top of the page were taken from my article. The remainder of the page contains the first 60% of my post. The links I included in the original have been omitted, but the text itself is unaltered. The source that is given for the material is simply "ScienceBlogs.com". My name is not given, and the only link to the original article is in the section of the page marked "related links." The copying that took place in the "comment" section is entirely unacknowledged. The only mention of copyright occurs at the bottom of the page, and reads, "Copyright © 2008 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. "
I was not asked for, and did not give, permission for my work to appear on that page, much less in that format. Needless to say, I felt a little slighted.
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Timo Hannay just responded, over at one of Nature's blogs, to the hordes of bloggers who were somewhat displeased with the tone and content of Declan Butler's recent Nature article. Now that someone from Nature has returned fire, and other bloggers have fired back, it's likely that this whole thing is going to turn into one of those multi-day, multi-article kerfuffles that do so much to maintain blogging's reputation as the WWE of the scientific world. Which is cool, as far as I'm concerned. It's been a while since I've grabbed a folding chair and climbed into the Cage of Death. I'm ready to go.
But not quite yet.
Before we start throwing each other onto collapsable tables, or driving bulldozers through the ring, it might be good to stop and look at the idea that's at the core of this conflict: open access. Just what is open access? More importantly, why is it something that so many scientists get worked up over?
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Last Tuesday, I posted another one of my picture quizzes, asking what a particular device is, and what it's used for. Jonathan was the first to get the correct answer - it's a Niskin bottle. A Niskin bottle is used to collect a sample of water at a particular depth. It's put into the water with both ends open, so that water flows through it freely as it descends. When it reaches the desired depth, the two ends are sealed and water trapped inside. As Dave S. notes, the bottle in the picture is a small one, and it's being used in a low-tech setup.
The picture was taken during a field trip that was part of the Marine Ecology and Evolution course (Biol 301) at UH Manoa during the Spring, 2005 semester. The field trip was a half-day excursion on the R/V Klaus Wyrtki. The Wyrtki is a converted 57 foot long-line fishing boat that's operated by the UH Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and is used primarily for short research trips in Hawaiian waters.
To give you a sense of how quickly you reach deep water off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands, the Niskin bottle that is visible in the picture is part of a string that sampled water down to about the 1000 foot mark. The land that you can see is not the closest portion of the shore - at the time, we were less than 2.5 miles from the coast.
Earlier today, I raised the goal for my DonorsChoose challenge from $1588 to $2000. More of you donated, and within just a couple of hours we pulled to within $0.35 of the $2K mark. I've upped the goal by another $500. Since two of the proposals that I added earlier today are now fully funded, I'm adding one more. I was going to wait, but this one's a true heartbreaker - well beyond depressing. This proposal comes from P.S. 62 in the Bronx:
We have been instructed to cover up all of our blackboards which are old and ruined. As a result, I have to teach all of my lessons on chart paper that I always hang in the classroom so that the children can have a visual representation of what we have accomplished each day.
Therefore, I am asking if my class could please be supplied with a large donation of chart paper for the rest of the school year, as this is all I have to work with and it runs out very quickly. It can be both the small pads as well as the really big pads. We are not provided with these at our school which becomes very difficult for me.
A classroom without a blackboard, and a school that can't afford to provide chart paper. In the richest city in the richest country on the planet, we've got a school where the teachers don't have blackboards. What's wrong with that picture? I mean besides it not showing up in the classroom on account of they've got no damn blackboard to draw it on.