PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access: excerpts from article in Nature Magazine

From: Leslie Carr <>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 20:14:30 +0000

Jennifer McLennan (ARL) points out the following article to appear in

Extracts below

PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access

Jim Giles

Journal publishers lock horns with free-information movement.

The author of Nail 'Em! Confronting High-Profile Attacks on Celebrities
and Businesses is not the kind of figure normally associated with the
relatively sedate world of scientific publishing. Besides writing the odd
novel, Eric Dezenhall has made a name for himself helping companies and
celebrities protect their reputations, working for example with Jeffrey
Skilling, the former Enron chief now serving a 24-year jail term for


Now, Nature has learned, a group of big scientific publishers has hired
the pit bull to take on the free-information movement, which campaigns
for scientific results to be made freely available. Some traditional
journals, which depend on subscription charges, say that open-access
journals and public databases of scientific papers such as the National
Institutes of Health's (NIH's) PubMed Central, threaten their

 From e-mails passed to Nature, it seems Dezenhall spoke to employees from
Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society at a meeting arranged
last July by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). A follow-up
message in which Dezenhall suggests a strategy for the publishers
provides some insight into the approach they are considering taking.

The consultant advised them to focus on simple messages, such as "Public
access equals government censorship". He hinted that the publishers
should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review,
and "paint a picture of what the world would look like without
peer-reviewed articles".


Dezenhall noted that if the other side is on the defensive, it doesn't
matter if they can discredit your statements, she added: "Media massaging
is not the same as intellectual debate.

Les Carr
Received on Wed Jan 24 2007 - 21:12:45 GMT

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