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While the world is moving towards an Open Science model of exchange of scientific information, there are, as expected, forces that are trying to oppose it. Whenever there is a movement to change any kind of system, those most likely to lose will make a last-ditch and nasty effort to temporarily derail the progress. So, in this case, the Big Science Publishers have decided, instead of joining the new world of Open Science and using their brand names, their know-how and their infrastructure to become the leaders in the new system, and instead opted to go all mean and nasty. Once they finally lose, they’ll lose for good and it will not be pretty:

PR’s ‘pit bull’ takes on open access:

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.

And since they have no healthy arguments to put forth, they will use the trickery with language in their efforts to slander the Open Source and Open Science organizations and online journals, taking their cues from the Frank Luntz textbook of Republican War On Meaning.

Comments

  1. #1 Benny
    January 25, 2007

    The American Chemical Society is looking more and more like its corporate partner the American Chemistry Council. They also use Dezenhall

  2. #2 Deepak
    January 27, 2007

    I have been an ACS member for years, and their journal/publication policy is horrible. I don’t know if this is still true, but there was a time you could not even access an abstract for free. I suspect that the ACS is even more concerned about the demise of CAS, with pubchem and Google’s efforts.

  3. #3 Agnostic
    January 30, 2007

    taking their cues from the Frank Luntz textbook of Republican War On Meaning

    Both dems & repubs use PR smokescreens as much as possible. Though they tend to vote Republican in local elections, rich Manhattanites (who dominate the publishing industry) vote Democrat in national elections.

    Using PR generally works when you’re only taking on joe schmoe, but joe schmoe doesn’t give a shit either way about open access journals. For once, the PR machine has met its match!

  4. #4 Ellen
    January 30, 2007

    OPEN ACCESS isn’t FREE. That’s what any first year econ student will tell you. I don’t know why scientists can’t get that. Open access is free to the reader. It still costs money to publish. Open access shifts that cost to the author.

    That means the author has to:
    a) pull money out of his grant to pay publication charges (assuming the grant terms allow that)
    b) get the university/department to pay (like the university is going to want to do that or can do that)
    c) pay out of his own pocket
    d) failing some or all of the above, publish LESS. LESS SCIENCE, not more.

    The money has to come from someone and somewhere. Open access is NOT FREE.

    Now, about your charge that those who have money to lose will fight against freedom of information. Mandatory open access is going to hurt those who do NOT have money to lose…the small nonprofits. They rely nearly entirely on memberships (individual subscriptions) and library subscriptions for their operating revenue, most of which goes to publish the journal. Kill these societies, you kill their journals. LESS SCIENCE, not more.

    Finally – the information is already free. What it isn’t is readily accessible to everyone in the world, 24/7. Publishers are already establishing policies to increase ready access, including free or very-low-cost subscriptions in the developing world, providing free articles to physicians upon request, providing free online access after a delay (of six months to a couple of years, depending on the journal).

    The problem is that mandatory, immediate open access will just shift costs, could reduce the number of scientific publications, and will benefit only a very few members of the public who can actually understand technical publications.

    Man. You guys are proving Darwin wrong!

  5. #5 coturnix
    January 30, 2007

    Yes. We know all that. So, why do you think they hired a bulldog?

    Read this as well as all the other responses I linked to in the post for some relevant non-hysterical information.

  6. #6 coturnix
    January 30, 2007

    Also, more links can be found here.

  7. #7 Bill
    January 30, 2007

    Ellen:

    OPEN ACCESS isn’t FREE.

    Who is arguing otherwise? Names and links please — it’s important to kill that silly idea. What OA is, is a recognition that publishing costs are orders of magnitude lower now, in the Web age, than they were when physical delivery of printed material was the only way to disseminate information.

    It still costs money to publish. Open access shifts that cost to the author.

    Fewer than half of all OA journals even charge author-side fees, and there are no author-side fees associated with “green OA”, deposition of e-prints in interoperable institutional repositories.

    That means the author has to:
    a) pull money out of his grant to pay publication charges (assuming the grant terms allow that)
    b) get the university/department to pay (like the university is going to want to do that or can do that)
    c) pay out of his own pocket
    d) failing some or all of the above, publish LESS. LESS SCIENCE, not more.

    Many journals charge money for publication already; page charges can reach thousands of dollars for a single article (OA fees, where they are charged, range from a few hundred to about $2500). So even if an author chooses an OA journal which charges an author-side fee, she is not likely to be paying more than she is used to budgeting — but she is getting free, permanent, world-wide access to her work, unlike the toll model. Not only that, but as OA puts pressure on the most egregious gougers, such as Elsevier, savings on journal subscriptions can be put to work paying for OA. All of this, mind, has nothing whatsoever to do with Green OA, which costs essentially nothing. (Repositories cost money to set up and maintain, but not a lot, and there are already thousands of them available and looking for content.)

    Mandatory open access is going to hurt those who do NOT have money to lose…the small nonprofits. They rely nearly entirely on memberships (individual subscriptions) and library subscriptions for their operating revenue, most of which goes to publish the journal. Kill these societies, you kill their journals.

    Actually, a great many scholarly societies publish journals and subsidize their other activities with the profits they make thereby. That they cannot cover costs by membership alone tells me they do not offer anything that is in great demand, and perhaps we could stand to lose a few such. Besides which, most such societies could cover publishing charges out of membership if they switched to an OA model using one of the many free (as in beer and as in speech) software packages available for just that purpose.

    Finally – the information is already free. What it isn’t is readily accessible to everyone in the world, 24/7. Publishers are already establishing policies to increase ready access, including free or very-low-cost subscriptions in the developing world, providing free articles to physicians upon request, providing free online access after a delay (of six months to a couple of years, depending on the journal).

    If the information is not available online (24/7) without toll fees, how is it free? It’s all very warm and fuzzy to talk about low cost access for the developing world, but remember that OA offers NO-cost access for the developing world — and that researchers in the rest of the world are still being forced to support the profit margins of those same warm, fuzzy publishers. As for the embargo, it’s a joke. Do you have any idea how fast science moves? And I haven’t even touched on the possibilities inherent in data/text mining, all of which are blocked by continuing with toll-access publishing.

    The problem is that mandatory, immediate open access will just shift costs, could reduce the number of scientific publications, and will benefit only a very few members of the public who can actually understand technical publications.

    Open Access will not shift costs, it will greatly reduce them — down to the functions that are necessary, not the ones that support vast profits. Existing OA publishers are already making (reasonable) profits, with and without author-side fees. OA will accelerate the research cycle, open up new ways of information processing, improve research metrics and in a host of other ways increase the volume and quality of scientific output. OA is for researchers, not the public — it’s icing on the cake that interested members of the public will also have unimpeded access. What the public mainly gets from OA is greatly increased value for their research dollars.

  8. #8 Mike Dunford
    January 30, 2007

    My response to the “Open Access is not Free” line can be found here.

  9. #9 tbell
    February 3, 2007

    curious, there’s no response by ‘ellen’…