PR for Open Access

From: Steve Hitchcock <>
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 13:08:53 +0100

At 12:26 18/06/02 +0100, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>The unfortunate title of this newspaper article (which is as much as
>most people will read and take home as a message) perpetuates two of
>the most common misunderstandings holding back open access:
>It is not a matter of "killing serials" but of freeing their contents.
>Nor is it a matter of "publishing in electronic repositories" but of
>openly archiving already-published articles in them:
>In the article itself Colin Steele, makes all the requisite distinctions,
>but the journalist's title manages to conflate them anyway! (It never
>ceases to amaze me how interviewers can keep getting something so
>fundamentally simple so systematically wrong!)

Much maligned as it is, this is a PR issue. Since journalists always seem
to make this conflation, someone ought to address it.

The fundamental problem, as I have said before, is that the open access
message, as presented, is too complex and too long. All journalists have
space limitations and need to attract the attention of readers with a
snappy first sentence. If the message is not presented to them in a
suitable form they will contract it themselves, with predictable results.

Thus the PR has to address the following question: Is the typical, and
incorrect, contraction, e.g. 'Serial Killers' (notwithstanding that the
headline writer may be compounding the impression), manufactured by the
journalist for impact, or is it the conclusion that the typical reader
would reach given the same information as the journalist?

Here's an idea: do some user testing on the message! Give them different
versions and find out which gets the message across most effectively.

Give journalists the correct contraction and they are more likely to get
the story right.

Received on Tue Jun 18 2002 - 13:08:53 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:32 GMT