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

From: Peter Banks <pbanks_at_BANKSPUB.COM>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2007 15:44:06 -0500

What you term "basic certification" is often not very basic. It involves
weeding out the 80% or so of manuscripts that are inadequate or
inappropriate, subjecting the remainder to often extensive revision, and
ensuring that the final papers use proper scientific nomenclature, standard
English, and statistical tests. It also involves supporting the people and
systems that support those processes. Anyone who has contracted with
ScholarOne or BenchPress or a home-grown manuscript management system can
tell you that the costs are not trivial. Neither are the costs of supporting
an editor and office in a major university.

Maybe all those things can be streamlined and made more efficient and
cost-effective. I certainly hope so, so that more taxpayer money stays where
it is belongs, in actual research. However, the Internet era has not
eliminated the need or the costs for filtering information and delivering it
in quality form. If anything, the explosion of information on the Web will
increase costs; dissemination is cheap, but filtering and delivering
information in quality, standardized form is not and is unlikely to become

Yes, the public owns the research. If they want it in raw form, without any
of the services publishers perform, they can certainly have it, warts and
all. They can certainly insist that publishers provide editing services more
cost-effectively. But they cannot expect free universal and immediate access
to the versions of papers in which publishers have invested substantially,
and it is misleading to suggest that they should.

Peter Banks
Banks Publishing
Publications Consulting and Services
10332 Main Street #158
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 591-6544
CELL (703) 254-8862
FAX (703) 383-0765

On 1/27/07 1:48 AM, "Arthur Sale" <> wrote:

> Peter
> 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
> returns.
> 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.
Received on Sun Jan 28 2007 - 04:42:58 GMT

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