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

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_Princeton.EDU>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 15:58:05 -0500

Their PR advisor has chosen what are
perhaps the weakest arguments against open access.

If governments want to censor or direct academic research
they already have the ability, and they use it. They direct
the research and publication permitted from government
laboratories, as the US does with global warming; they can control
what they fund, as with stem-cell research; they can prohibit
some classes of research altogether, as with cannabis; they
can restrict it, as with cryptography. They can even restrict the
attendance at scientific meetings. They can delay or prevent
the publication of medical research, as they did with penicillin
in world war II.

Peer review is not carried out by publishers. It is carried out
completely by scientists--the scientists who submit the papers, the
scientists who allot them to referees, the scientists who do
the refereeing. and the scientists who make the final decision
on the basis of the referee's reports. Publishers claim to
organize the process, but it has never been clearly shown just
what they do but pay office expenses and purchase the software
to keep track of the correspondence--and open source software is
also available. Scientists are perfectly able to operate without
them, and for many journals they do just that.

What would the world look like without peer review? It would
presumably have fraudulent medical research, such as some of the
recent stem cell research, and it might have fraudulent
research in other fields, such as the Lucent fraud a few years back,
all published under the current publishing system--complete
with peer-review.

The main problems with peer-review are getting scientists to use it,
and making the financial readjustments required for a system
which would almost certainly cost less than the present.

That commercial publishers should use such arguments
is a sign of the strength and inevitability of the
open access movement.

David Goodman, Ph.D., M.L.S.
Bibliographer and Research Librarian
Princeton University Library

----- Original Message -----
From: Leslie Carr <lac_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 3:23 pm
Subject: [AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM] PR's 'pit bull' takes on open
access: excerpts from article in Nature Magazine

> Jennifer McLennan (ARL) points out the following article to appear in
> Nature
> 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 fraud.
> ...
> 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 livelihoods.
> 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 - 21:32:01 GMT

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