I completely agree with the spirit of the Research Without Walls initiative: research funded by public institutions should be accessible to everybody and not hidden behind paywalls. To change this situation, Research Without Walls asks you to sign this pledge: “Effective ,I will assist in the peer review process (as a reviewer, board/committee member, chair, editor, etc.) only for conferences, journals, and other publication venues that make all accepted publications available to the public for free via the web”
Let me tell you why I will NOT be signing this:
- I don’t understand why the pledge only involves committing not to review for those conferences/journals but allows to publish in them (well, I do understand, see my second reason). I think not publishing in them would send a much stronger message. It´s much easier to find reviewers than good authors to fill the publication
- My pragmatic me knows that if I sign this I’d be lying (and so will do many of the active researchers that sign it!). This is one of those very nice (and needed) initiatives that help to reflect on the “scientific business model” (like the stop the numbers game, behind a paywall of course 🙂 ) but that can only be actually followed by people that don’t pursue any scientific promotion (usually because they are already at the top of their career). What we need is to put pressure on the evaluation agencies and governments and make them understand that the model to evaluate a scientific career has to evolve with the times!
Agreed, this is a pledge you can only follow if you are tenured. A better approach is for the funding bodies, like NIH or NSERC or the EU, to insist that research publications be freely available at a central repository.
They claim that the pledge is about not peer reviewing in closed journals, instead of about not publishing, because one is often ethically bound to submit papers to closed journals (for instance, to care for the academic careers of one’s students). I think it’s a good reason. And if enough people sign the pledge, this could choke up the peer reviewing process enough that it could turn the tide.
But your other reason holds—it’s hard to sign it before tenure. I’m still debating whether to do it though.
You’re right but I´d say that we are also ethically bound to do community work (i.e. reviewing for instance) for the journals/conferences we submit papers to. Maybe the unethicality of the paywall can be used as an excuse but I´ve sent several papers to a journal (because my students need so) and then the editor asks me to help in the journal reviewing process for other papers, it’d be difficult to say no.
It would seem that you may have missed to noticed the
“Customized this pledge” option in the upper right corner:
If you check in that box, you get a text window where you
can customize the pledge. Given that your objections are
not to the current terms of the pledge, but to the lack of
additional terms, this customization option may suit your
As Neil and Jorge have pointed out, it is clearly emerging
the the Tenure process is part of the problem, and that
in consequence, sooner or later the concept of Tenure
will also have to be revised.
Sure, but if I have to customize the text with all the conditions I mention in the post I don’t think the pledge would be a real pledge 🙂