....or the cutting and pasting unverifiable theories for fun and profit

Documenting climatology's fascination with regurgitation. Here is a popular example to get you started: Luterbacher and Jones borrow their text from the Mann.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Copyright ... or Not

Many academics prepare lists of their publications, see for example R.S. Bradley's here (and illustrated above). Such lists are a wonderful resource for researchers. In many cases the entries in the list are helpfully linked to PDF files of the actual publications, such as in the case of http://www.geo.umass.edu/faculty/bradley/mann1998.pdf, the Mann, Bradley, and Hughes famous paper on hockey stick like temperature reconstructions, which is linked from Bradley's publication page.

This practice is extremely helpful to those interested in learning more about the subject. I have to wonder though whether the copyright owners, Macmillan Publishers Ltd, in this case, would be overly happily about this new publication medium being provided by their authors. When I visit Nature's www.nature.com site, and find this paper, I also find that Nature would like to charge me money to look at the paper ('To read this story in full you will need to login or make a payment', having the ability to login implies buying a subscription to Nature). (Interestingly, I also find from the Nature site that a corrigendum to the original paper was published in 2004, and I can pay to view that too. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Bradley's publication page does not provide a copy of that corrigendum. Probably it was too inconsequential to be of interest - and only published to satisfy some tedious scientific detail).

Of course, Bradley does provide a rider on his publication list "The following .pdf files are made available to individuals for academic use only. Those wishing to make further copies are requested to contact the publisher of each article." (see http://www.geo.umass.edu/faculty/bradley/bradleypub.html) which perhaps makes the scientific publishers sleep a little more soundly.

And, in general I am sure that most academics would consider that they retain the copyright of the paper, no matter what they agree on submission of their manuscript, so why not go ahead and self-publish the paper on the web? This is particularly important in areas where the scientific truth of the study will not necessarily 'spread' by itself, because the scientific argument is insubstantial. In such cases, it makes good sense to repeat the words early and often, and to promote the fee-free reproduction of scientific works by publishing them on as many sites as possible. Or indeed, by using the same scare stories as frequently as possible in as many papers as possible.

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