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

From: Imre Simon <imres.g_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2007 15:36:47 -0200

> I have no met a homemaker in Houston who cares to read the American Journal
> of Physiology, no offense to that fine journal.

Dear Peter,

I think that you are consistently trying to desconstruct a very
powerful line of reasoning. In computing circles this kind of
disseminating information is called FUD, i.e. this is spreading Fear,
Doubt and Uncertainty.

I believe that giving the general public access to the scientific
literature would be an experiment with some excelent results and
probably some pretty bad ones also. Society will just have to learn to
cope with that. The point is that we can't afford not to make this
experiment and I am sure that the public will learn in due time how to
use correctly such a wealth of (tricky) information or maybe it won't
use it at all, just as you depict the homemaker from Houston..

But Open Access is much more than this and focussing on these narrower
points tends to deviate attention from the really important ones.
Today on JISC appeared a quite succint but very powerful explanation
of what is at stake and I borrow from there in order to try to
recalibrate this discussion:


One of the petition's signatories, Richard J Roberts, Nobel Prize
winner for Physiology or Medicine in 1993, said: "Open access to the
published scientific literature is one of the most desirable goals of
our current scientific enterprise. Since most science is supported by
taxpayers it is unreasonable that they should not have immediate and
free access to the results of that research. Furthermore, for the
research community the literature is our lifeblood. By impeding access
through subscriptions and then fragmenting the literature among many
different publishers, with no central source, we have allowed the
commercial sector to impede progress. It is high time that we
rethought the model and made sure that everyone had equal and
unimpeded access to the whole literature. How can we do cutting edge
research if we don't know where the cutting edge is?"


Please note that the opinion is that of a Nobel Prize winner in
Physiology or Medicine. It appears that he does not share your fears
about the homemaker in Houston being able to read the American
Journal of Physiology, if he wishes to do so.


Imre Simon
Professor of Computer Science, University of So Paulo, Brazil

On 1/29/07, Peter Banks <> wrote:
> The reason to focus so much on large medical journals is that, at least in
> the United States, policy policy debate regarding scholarly publishing is
> almost entirely focused on clinical medicine--and on rather ignorant
> misconceptions of how OA can serve the general public.
> Exhibit A among the Legislators-Gone-Batty is Sen.John Cornyn: who claimed
> this in introducing the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S.2695):
> ^all Americans will be positively affected as a result of this bill:
> Patients diagnosed with a disease or condition will be able to use the
> Internet to access the full text of articles containing the latest
> information on treatment and prognosis^ The Internet gives the homemaker in
> Houston the ability to find volumes of information about a recent medical
> diagnosis given to a family member.
> I have no met a homemaker in Houston who cares to read the American Journal
> of Physiology, no offense to that fine journal.


> Peter Banks
> Banks Publishing
> Publications Consulting and Services
> 10332 Main Street #158
> Fairfax, VA 22030
> (703) 591-6544
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Received on Mon Jan 29 2007 - 21:19:08 GMT

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