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

From: Arthur Sale <>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2007 17:48:10 +1100


You also seem to have forgotten that publishers haven't paid for the
research they make their off-the-top profits from. They get their inputs for
free, courtesy of the public's generosity, and in expectation of public

Let us be under no doubt that taxpayers have paid for most of the research
costs (leaving aside private enterprise) and they own it. What publishers do
is mainly value-add a certification process on the top of this vastly larger
investment. (Even this basic certification is not good enough in many
instances, such as clinical results, software correctness, genetics, etc.)

Of course, the copy-editing and dissemination processes are at present in
transition as we move from traditional patterns to the Internet era.

To use your homely analogy - taxpayers are not entitled to free bread if
they've paid the whole cost of growing the wheat, but they are entitled to
allocate the raw grain to themselves for home grinding, and to constrain the
price and availability of grain to millers and similarly for bread. And they
often do.

Arthur Sale

PS I have no problem dealing with advertising pit bulls. They know so little
about the industry that their snappy lines are likely to be easy to counter.
But those of us in the research industry ought to be co-operating.

Peter Banks wrote:

> It is quite astounding to hear the outcry over publishers engaging in
> messaging" rather than "intellectual debate."
> For years, the OA camp has used media messaging--with its attending
> distortions and gross simplifications--to great effect. Consider a pearl
> like, "Taxpayers have the right to access research they have already paid
> for." Indeed they do. They can look at exactly what they have paid
> for--which is research up to the stage of preprints. They have not,
> paid for peer-review, copyediting, composition, or any of the other value
> that a publisher adds to the manuscript. That inconvenient fact has not,
> however, stopped OA advocates from disingenuously implying that publishers
> are cheating taxpayers from something they already own. (By this logic,
> might argue that citizens have the right to free bread for having paid
> agricultural subsidies.)
> Before OA advocates start huffing about the need for "intellectual
> they need to demonstrate their own intellectual integrity.
Received on Sat Jan 27 2007 - 13:14:26 GMT

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