Who's Inaccurate? 

 

 Online September/October, 2001 and January/February, 2002

 

 Mr. Hillier, founder and president of TheSienctificWorld.com service,  reflected on my review of sciBASE, a component of his service,  in a letter to the editor (Online January/February, 2002). Beyond lamenting that I obscured the significant benefits of the Personal User Profile (PuP), he made numerous factual "corrections".  I am glad that the pervasive cutesy pup logo which appeared on every screen was removed. It was more appropriate for a  K-6 site than for a scientific one. But I am not happy with his "corrections".  

 Although much of the long letter is PR-poop which should have been placed as an ad, I chose to reply. After all, Mr. Hillier, with his background at Elsevier and CRC,  is an  industry veteran, and he deserves attention, and a reply, especially because he is the one who dispenses inaccurate information. It would be a disservice to readers of Online to be left misinformed about the facts. Opinions are other matters. 

 As excerpts  from scanned images of my original printouts, and screen shots illustrate, Mr. Hillier "corrects" right data with wrong data, time and again.

 

 For a starter, it is not   possible to comment on recent enhancements which were implemented recently,  after I submitted the review in June, 2001. 

 Second, I did not create the table that Mr. Hillier keeps referring to when claiming inaccuracies. It is part of a sidebar made by my editor, Marydee Ojala.

 Although most -if not all- of the factual "errors" that Mr. Hillier refers to appear in the table, the poop  was left at my door. Marydee has been catching and correcting errors which I made in the past, so I am happy to respond for the criticism of the table   It is a gratifying task as she was -not surprisingly- right. 

 

This is a part the table in the sidebar of  Marydee. Notice the journals where she reported that the copyright fee in  sciBASE is $0.00. Also notice the astronomical copyright fee for one journal.

 

Click here to see the whole table!

 

 The table reported what was found (and still can be found as of February, 2002) in sciBASE about the copyright for  the British Medical Journal. It is sciBASE which suggests that it does not charge a fee. (Indeed, at the superb BMJ.com site there is no fee at all for the full text of the nearly 30,000 articles).

 

 

 True, there are records where the $4.88 copyright fee is shown by sciBASE, but there are many  more records for articles from the British Medical Journal that displays the $0.00 copyright fee which Mr. Hillier labeled as incorrect in the table. So who is incorrect? And why the large discrepancy in tens of thousands of records for this journal alone?. You know the answer for the first, and you will learn for the second a little later. 

 

 The president conveniently does not use quotation signs in this correction. No wonder, because  I wrote that "the copyright fee listed for several Academic Press journal titles is zero, which is equally hard to believe".

 I knew that copyright fee should apply. I am familiar with AP's policy and the subject. As for rare restrictions and clearly stated statements, read on.

 

 But first, check the truth about the statement that  "The fee for Information and Computation is $35.67". 

 

 Wait a minute, Information and Computation is an Academic Press journal. 

Did not Mr. Hillier  just assert that Academic Press does not allow delivering documents electronically? He did. 

Who said that Information and Computation's copyright fee is $35.67? He did.

 So,  who was inaccurate, again?

 Wouldn't it  be better to use straight language right in the bibliographic citation instead of bamboozling users with this nonsense  $0.00 article fee and $0.00 copyright fee? It even confused the man who presides over the service.

 It is nice that  for this article sciBASE can offer an abstract. It is not that nice that it charges  $2.50 for it. You can get it from PASCAL on DialogSelect (which does not charge for searching) for $1.55-$1.95 .

.But you can have an even better deal.  As you see below, the publisher also has an abstract for you - for free. Actually, it has free abstracts for 670 of the 690 articles from  this journal alone.

 

Academic Press has similarly informative  free abstracts for nearly 180,000 of the 201,000+ articles from all of its journals for the past 10 years, and  a very intuitive and powerful software with further links. 

 Is  the abstract in the PASCAL database better? No, it is exactly the same with less options, it was lifted from the article "as is"  into the PASCAL database, no muss, no fuss.

Click here to see the whole capture  or the whole record!

 

 Mr. Hillier just can't stop looking for other "errors". Not finding any, he makes up one, by claiming that the table has once again incorrect information. Or does it?.

 

 Well, one more example by the president, and one more mistake. Neither the article, nor the table (shown earlier) claimed that this journal's  copyright fee is $28.50.

 

As you could see from the excerpt earlier, the table indicated that the price is $0.00 - and that's exactly what sciBASE still reports (Apparently, the Journal of Physics is published by one of many other not really "rare" publishers who do not allow for sciBASE electronic document supply.  Who did you say was inaccurate, again?.

 You would believe that the president of the service has enough clout to have the record support what he asserts in writing as a fact, or has enough human and other resources to get his facts checked when criticizing a reviewer for  incorrect information.  

Click to see the whole capture!

 

 As for the $0.00 prices and "clearly stating the restriction" (and observing it, I assume), I would counsel more caution to Mr. Hillier, too. 

 There is a very large number of duplicates  in sciBASE, with slightly different bibliographic citations culled from different sources - without duplicate checking or elimination. It gets really confusing. 

 The records  show very different price information for the very same article. (Medline is consistent in the journal name format, but PASCAL is notorious about the inconsistency.)

 

 

 The records with $0.00 fees indeed show a pop-up message (although without explanation about the restriction) when you want to add it to the shopping cart.

 What about the twin record for the same article that charges $12 + $4.88 for the very same article? Scroll down to see.

 

 It does get into your shopping cart without any pop-up message or warning. After all, Mr. Hillier said that the copyright fee of BMJ  is $4.88. Is he accurate? 

Well, in this matter sometimes he is, more often  he is not. About 27,500 records claim $4.88 copyright fee, but more than 34,000 reports $0.00.

 No,  the difference is not because of the different editions of BMJ (clinical, international, etc). There are tens of thousands duplicates with different price tag for the very same article from the very same journal. 

 

 Of course you can avoid this mess if you head for the straightforward and free PubMed service, which offers free abstracts for most of the records, and guides you to free versions of the articles, if there are ones in PubMed Central (PMC), or at the publisher's site.

 

 

 For example, on the home page of BMJ, you can search the full text of all the documents published in BMJ since 1994.  You can have the output in PDF and/or HTML format, with links to related articles, cited articles, citing articles, and a lot of other very cerebral functions for free.

 

Click here to see the whole capture or see the site!

 

 

There are many other publisher sites with intelligent options to which PubMed links you to for the free article.  There are literally millions of free abstracts and full text articles  at  publishers' web sites, in PubMed Central, and at the sites of digital facilitators (HighWire Press, Ingenta/ CatchWord) for which  sciBASE charges you article fees and copyright fees  in a very confusing way, changing the copyright fees almost as often as they change guards at Arlington. 

Since my original review  the copyright fee of all journals which I tested (except one) increased - at least at sciBASE.

Click here to see the whole capture!

 

  I am glad that at least one of the things that I criticized (beyond he excessive use of the PuP logo) was changed. I wrote about the absurdity of the copyright fee for the Journal of Law and Education which was listed as $96.86. Mr. Hillier wrote in his response that it "was the fee quoted by the Copyright Licensing Agency to the British Library".

Click here see the whole caption!

 

 It was changed after my review was published and now it is $0.40. That's quite a difference. I hope that those who were charged the $86.86 fee were then reimbursed.

 

 The question remains, of course, how many other copyright fees are wrong, very wrong, and if the fees are sent to the right owner.

 

 I will discuss that issue soon.

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