What Limits My Science?

1. The number of hours in a day.
2. The enormous time spent applying for funding.
3. Prestige/glam nonsense.
4. Life, things I like doing (the only welcome limit on the list).
5. Objectively stupid reviewers and the editors who take them seriously.
6. Administrative nonsense.
.
.
.
.
58. Bathroom breaks.
.
.
.
67. Mold/fungi.
.
.
.
74. Sometimes I can’t access a paper online.

I am in no way saying that Open Access is not objectively ethically correct or that it isn’t important. I am just contextualizing it relative to other things that impact the small world of my own work. Selfish? Sure, but we are all—or most of us–are desperately dog paddling to do this job at all, and battles have to be chosen every day.

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10 Comments on “What Limits My Science?”

  1. I share some of your fatigue with the OA debate. The biggest issue, I think, is that framing it as a moral failing is wrong. Not because there’s no merit to it, but it means those people are passing judgement on anyone who don’t fall in line. Progress requires effective conflict and effective conflict requires trust that it is the ideas that are being debated not the person.

    We all need to be able to have input and have our ideas criticized, that’s life and that’s science. But telling someone they are immoral or bad because they don’t agree with you just puts up barriers to any progress.

  2. Dr Becca says:

    Same for me, except bathroom breaks would certainly crack the top 20. Also, teaching.

  3. DrugMonkey says:

    This is spot on target.

  4. jipkin says:

    isn’t OA supposed to be about the curious nonscientist taxpayers getting access? (And universities saving a lot of money on journal subscriptions.)

  5. rxnm says:

    jipkin… sometimes it is, depending on who you talk to. The taxpayer rights argument is joke. I mean, I’d love to pilot a drone I helped pay for. Right? It’s MINE. I think there is a moral argument regarding the *global* dissemination of knowledge, but not a particularly strong one given the relative precedence of the moral arguments we could be having about the world as it is. As for university finances, once we fire 80% of the six figure deanlets and 100% of sports coaches, we can sort out library budgets.

  6. Access isn’t a big issue if you are at at your computer in a university. It’s a different matter if you are an independent journalist or if you are working from home or in transit (and your institution doesn’t yet understand remote access protocols). But a large part of the OA debate isn’t about access per se, but dissatisfaction with the traditional mode of scientific publication – the growth of the mega publishing houses that charge the authors to publish, require reviews for free and then charge the audience to read. Someone has to pay but this is hardly a competitive business as there is no inherent business case for professional publication. Of course journals add value through editing and organization of reviews, etc. But editing skills are not an exclusive of journals and funding agencies don’t (yet) charge us for reviews of applications. There are any number of parallel universes in which publishing houses would not exist in the form we have. However, we live in this universe which comprises a hierarchy of publishing domains that are generally accepted by both scientists and their employers. I personally think there is room for a hybrid where there is choice of publishing methodology. As long as its searchable and citable (DOI), then the essential norms are met. In this world one can simply choose where to submit based on your own believe system. And you can interconvert at will as many do. Publish and let publish. However, don’t for one minute think that the publishing houses are willing to let their business model be left to the whim of scientists. The other shoe has yet to drop.

  7. For me, right now, the #1 factor is the number of hours spent watching Gossip Girl/24/bad show of the month. Damn you Netflix!

  8. mtomasson says:

    To me, the “OA debate” is interesting at this point not because of #74, (getting access to papers), but how the debate has highlighted the evolving culture of science, especially relating to mentorship and public engagement (equals funding, #2)!! Hm. Better write my own post on this…!!

  9. […] Bacteria From Thin Humans Can Slim Mice Down What Limits My Science? Sleep deprivation increases food purchasing the next day Here Comes the Story of No Hurricanes […]

  10. […] the whole OA thing as something that is not an impediment to the daily practice of science (What Limits My Science?). People raised good points in the comments about access by journalists, etc. But I argued why it […]


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